I have been accepted into a PhD program at Moore Theological College in Sydney, Australia! This is an exciting opportunity for us as a family, but it is also a weighty and costly endeavour — costly in many different ways. It will be hard moving away from our families and church family in Canada, and it has already been a whirlwind trying to figure out what needs to be done if this is to happen. However, following Jesus in this pursuit is more than worth it. As the Lord wills, getting a PhD will hopefully open doors for us to settle down for long-term ministry and the project I will be working on has many implications for the Church and its mission.
According to Jesus, the fundamental purpose of His church is to extend the Kingdom of God on earth. In Matthew 28, He summarizes this purpose in this way: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” (Matt 28:18-20 ESV). Fundamentally, God’s people working together as the church are called to do something. Whenever we do something, we implicitly or explicitly make decisions about the way we are going to do something and why exactly we will do it that way. We could call the doing side of this “practice” and the how/why side “theory.” The Bible has as much to say about theory as it does practice, but it happens all too often that we don’t think carefully about the theory behind our practice. As I have studied over the last 8 years, I have observed time and time again how unbiblical theory has been woven into some significant areas of Christian theology. My series of books God’s Gifts for the Christian Life is intended to show how the Bible not only tells us to do something but that it is sufficient “so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work” (2 Tim 3:17). That is, the Bible not only tells us to do something (practice) but tells how and why we are to do this (theory).
With my dissertation (the research project that makes a PhD degree) I hope to look at several key ideas that have permeated Western thought—even theology—for the last 2000 years and how the Bible would have us abandon these ideas and ground our practice and thinking more firmly in the Bible. I hope that this project would lead to a greater confidence in God’s Word, that it would lead God’s people to pursue a more thoroughly Biblical approach to the various intellectual endeavours that are necessary for the Church to succeed in its mission, and that it would lead us to pursue theology in a more humble manner. I will post more about this project shortly (here).
This is an endeavour that we will need the help of our friends and family to pursue. Please pray for us in the coming months and beyond. At this moment, pray that we would know the best way to meet the visa requirements (namely health insurance), get approved for visas, and that I would have a job lined up by the time my course of study starts (February 17, 2020). Additionally, it is quite common—especially for theological education and research—for PhD students to fundraise at least part of their costs. Thankfully, the program we have chosen is not too expensive, but we will need some financial help to make the transition go smoothly. If you would like to know more about our specific financial needs now and over the next four years, please contact me at [email protected]. If you feel led to support us in this way, Moore Theological College has a set up a convenient way to give to their students through the Student Support Fund. If for some reason Nicole and I are unable to continue in the program, all remaining funds given through this means will be distributed to other students who are in need. Moore charges no administrative fees for this service; the only fees are those associated with visa and debit transactions. You can find my support page here, https://moore.edu.au/people/james-rutherford/. Additionally, all sales of my books over the next 4 years of study will go towards this endeavour.
You can learn more about Moore Theological College from its website, https://www.moore.edu.au/, and more about my heart in pursuing a PhD on this site, https://teleioteti.ca/about/. Any similarities between the two is a product of God’s providence.
God willing, Nicole, Aliyah, and I will be leaving on December 30 of this year and will return some time in 2024 (God willing).