First off: I initially wrote this for myself. I needed to put in writing what I am doing here and why. So I won’t forget. So I have something to go back to. At the same time, it may help others (you) to comprehend what this website is about and to decide if it may be of use to you. I hope it is. So here I go.
I am a teacher. I have seen myself as a teacher for almost as long as I have been a Christian. I particularly enjoy teaching the Bible and thinking about the issues and tough questions it brings up. Much of this teaching has taken place in the context of the School of Biblical Studies (SBS), a course offered by Youth With A Mission (YWAM), my spiritual home and workplace since 1988. I totally enjoy studying a subject or a book of the Bible, and then passing on what I have learned, whether in a classroom or in writing.
Over the past few years, however, I have come to a slow recognition of a crucial point. The purpose of teaching, when done right, is not to teach, or to have taught. Teaching is a means to an end. The end or purpose is for learning to take place.
So I have begun to reframe what I do. I now say, to myself, not: “I teach”, but: I create learning experiences. And to this end I started building this platform. It is meant to be a place of learning, a Learning Site. I aim to put out a regular teaching input both in written form and in the form of a video podcast. At this point, I am aiming for one every month. These inputs will be published on this website and (in written form) also sent out by e-mail. Other stuff may follow.
So who is this for? When I first began thinking about this, I had SBS staff and graduates in mind. I thought of it as an SBS staff training letter.
But I am sure there is a larger group of people interested in teaching the Bible or getting more in-depth input on biblical interpretation and reflection than can be offered in normal church activities.
It has always been important to me to bridge the gap between sound scholarship and people in the church (or in YWAM). So what I am attempting to do here is to build some bridges: bridges of understanding, so we all benefit from the hard scholarly work that is being done elsewhere.
A Spiritual Discipline: Scholarship on Fire
One more aspect needs to be blended in. I am not primarily interested in study and learning as objectives in themselves. To me, they are above all pathways to God. What I am after is not simply scholarship, but scholarship on fire. This is the spiritual discipline of study. It is not a modern invention; it is one of the classics. And its aim, as of all the spiritual disciplines, is to know God. Or as biblical scholar Gordon Fee put it: The proper aim of all true theology is doxology [that is, an expression of praise to God].
My desired outcome, therefore, is a sound mind combined with vital piety, as we feed together on God’s word and wisdom.
If this appeals to you, then my blog and e-mails may be for you. Why not give it a try and sign up for regular updates? Sign up now and I will e-mail you the link to the eBook The Still Great Planet Earth, an introduction and comparison of four major views of the end times, and to Your Digital Toolbox: Internet Resources for Studying and Teaching the Bible.
You want to know more? Let’s see…
I was born in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, in 1961. 25 years later I graduated from Utrecht University with an MS in biology (yes, this is the short version).
I have always had a drive for learning things. I haven’t done StrengthsFinder , but learning must be my main talent in this test. During my university years my main interest had shifted from biology and all things natural to God and all things spiritual, but the learning desire remained. So I joined YWAM and pursued a second degree (MA) in biblical studies.
Part of the degree programme was the SBS. This is a nine-month course in which students undertake an in-depth study of each book of the Bible. I loved it and knew that I had found my place and my platform. For many years I led the SBS in Germany.
Some of my favourite books in the Bible to study and teach are Isaiah, Revelation, Romans, Genesis, Galatians, the Corinthian epistles, and, oh, about 50 or so more.
During my years in SBS Germany I also completed a Ph.D. through the Oxford Centre for Mission Studies. Again I was learning, and greatly enjoying it. (The subject: Christian Zionism in Germany; if you are interested, subscribe below or send me an email, and I’ll get you the full text.)
For some years after completing this research project I was not at all sure about the continuation of my journey. My involvement with the SBS in Germany came to an end in 2010. I helped pioneer the Leadership Retreat Centre for YWAM near Malaga, Spain. My wife and I started the Elijah’s Inn ministry. And I continued to teach in SBS. But I had lost my direction. It turned into somewhat of a personal crisis. But maybe one has to leave what one loves, in order to discover how much one loves it. Or try to be someone else for a while to discover who one truly is.
This platform emerged from these years of being a little lost. It is part of my way out. I feel it provides me with a larger purpose again, a place to give. It is my new
classroom, sorry, make that learning site. This is what I want Create a Learning Site to be: a place that inspires and helps myself and others to create a learning site for themselves.
So why not give it a try? Subscribe and I’ll send you the link to The Still Great Planet Earth and a few other publications. You will get updates and monthly learning letters delivered straight to your e-mail inbox.
I also write about my reasons for starting this blog in one of my first posts.
Disclaimer: Nothing I publish or express through this platform represents an official position of YWAM or of the SBS; it contains my personal reflections and opinions. The verdict passed on the 12th May 1998 by the LG Hamburg rules that the inclusion of links also leads to co-responsibility of the material offered via these links. The LG Hamburg has declared that it is only possible to disclaim responsibility by expressly distancing oneself from the contents of the websites. This website contains website links to third party information providers. I have no influence on the contents or reliability of the websites of these third party information providers. The following therefore applies to all links: “I have no influence on the design and contents of third party internet websites. I therefore expressly distance myself from the material of all third party internet websites, even if this website provides links to these external sites.” The declaration is valid for all third party links given on this website and the material of all sites reached via banners and links on this website.
Create a Learning Site: Biblical studies and teaching made
easy doable (Let’s face it: the Bible is not easy, and neither is biblical studies or teaching; but it is doable.)