Question #1: Dear Bob,
I'm saying this prayer in thanks to you for your many useful words on
the teachings of Jesus Christ.
I actually say it many times each day, in English and German, since
those are my two best languages.
I like to feel the presence of Christ as he walked the earth and taught
us how to prayer:
Vater unser im Himmel,
geheiligt werde Dein Name.
Dein Reich komme.
Dein Wille geschehe,
wie im Himmel so auf Erden.
Unser tägliches Brot gib uns heute.
Und vergib uns unsere Schuld,
wie auch wir vergeben unseren Schuldigern.
Und führe uns nicht in Versuchung,
sondern erlöse uns von dem Bösen.
Denn dein ist das Reich und die Kraft und die Herrlichkeit
Our Father who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come,
Thy will be done
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
as we forgive our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory,
for ever and ever.
With Love and Blessings, in Him, for the Continued Growth of your Work.
Response #1: I like "Luther Bibel". And I like the fact that Luther got "deliver us from the Evil One" right (I don't know of any English versions that do - such is the power of tradition).
I also very much appreciate all your good words. They are an inspiration to keep plugging away, and to keep seeing "the invisible One" with the eyes of faith (Heb.11:27).
In our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,
Bob... It's such a blessing to find someone who correctly balances the sovereignty of God and His power to keep us saved, and the free will of man. Hyper-Arminianism teaches "one sin, and you lose your salvation...degenerating into humanism and salvation by works. On the other hand, Hyper Calvinism teaches Once Saved, Always Saved, no Matter What. If I can live any way I want and still stay saved, then Grace becomes license and antinomianism. I look at it this way; my relationship to Jesus Christ is a marriage, and ought to be stronger than any earthly human relationship, including the one with our spouses. It should be very difficult to completely break, yet still possible to dissolve. I looked in Strong's Concordance and did not find one Scripture that said the Holy Spirit suddenly left a believer if he sinned. If that were the case, how could we ever recover and confess our sins? I found a number of Scriptures, though, that announce that sudden destruction can come on anyone willfully walking in a lifestyle of iniquity. I like your course as it is thorough, does not jump to conclusions based on one Scripture taken out of context. I have read other e-mails and I like the compassionate yet firm way you answer the e-mails of my brothers and sisters. Hoping to know you better and wishing you a Merry Christmas (The Holidays are not Happy without Christ).
Good to make your acquaintance, and thanks so much for your e-mail.
Your marriage analogy is very appropriate, and scriptural too of course,
inasmuch as we are the Bride of Christ to be, espoused by our Savior's
death on our behalf. As I have had occasion to remark in the past,
because of this relationship and the fact that God designed and ordained
marriage, every marriage we see can teach us something about what our
relationship with Christ should be, whether by negative or positive
example (cf. Eph.5:22-33).
Thanks again for your encouragement and for your dedication to the Word of God.
In our Lord Jesus Christ,
I must admit that I have not read all of your studies, and also that
I have only just found out about your web site, but I feel I want to
make a comment about one little piece of writing that I have read. From
what I have read so far, the material you write seems to be very good,
and helpful. However, I am not very impressed at all about this sentence
you (or your organization) write in "Peter's Epistles #6: 'Grace in
Suffering'". You write that, 'The unbeliever experiences suffering
in this life without God's help and support and can look forward only to
punishment after death'. At another place (or lesson) you indicate that
God has planned, and knows about all the experiences of suffering that a
Christian will be subjected to in this life. This sounds a lot like the
Calvinist view that those who are not called, are lost, and never given
a 'real' chance of salvation. The 5 points of Calvinism, especially
points 2 and 3, clearly indicate this position, and "write-off" people
mercilessly, without giving them a chance at salvation.
If this is your position, then I want to tell you that I am in total disagreement with it! In fact, it disgusts me, and makes me angry to think that anyone could accept such an apparently unfair, unjust and merciless position - no matter whether it really was the case, or not. I'm not pretending to defend the righteousness of God, but I just cannot understand how such an unfair and unjust position could be accepted. If I am mistaken in my understanding about this point, please accept my apology. Thanking you for any reply you may consider making to my email.
Let me assure you right from the start that these studies would never be accepted by those who earnestly profess Calvinism. In fact, generally when I receive e-mails on this subject it is from Calvinists who wish to take these teachings to task (see for example: "Is faith a gift of God?", and "Brief answers"). So in this respect your e-mail is somewhat unique. Indeed, acceptance of the fact and the scriptural reality of creature choice, creature free will, is at the heart of this ministry. Nothing in the plan of God makes sense without free will, and the scriptures cry out on every page for people to amend their behavior and come back to God - a completely pointless exercise, when you stop to think about it, if there were no free will. You can find out more about biblically described and defined free will at the following link:
"The Image and Likeness of God" (in Bible Basics part 3A: Anthropology)
I stand by my quoted statement, 'The unbeliever experiences suffering in this life without God's help and support and can look forward only to punishment after death'. Scripture is very clear about this. As Jonah says in his prayer from the belly of the great fish "Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the mercy that could be theirs" (Jonah 2:8; KJV: "They that observe lying vanities forsake their own mercy"). The point is that Jesus died for everyone in order that everyone might be saved, and the only thing standing in the way of salvation is a person's own negativity and refusal to respond to God's grace - just as the same negativity to greater or lesser degrees is the only thing stopping believers from achieving the full and complete will of God for their lives. The fact that God is great beyond human comprehension and expression, and has known the end from the beginning before He ever even initiated creation in the first place does not in any way reduce or remove the true and genuine nature of the free will He gave us - a free and unfettered ability to choose for Him. If we refuse to do so as believers in little things or as unbelievers who reject Him entirely, this is a loss we incur by our own volition. After all, He has done the most for us in the sacrifice, in the putting to death of His own beloved Son - how will He then not do everything we need Him to do for us? We are the problem - not God. In fairness to John Calvin, one would wish to make some distinction between his own beliefs and teachings and those of his followers on the one hand, and also to point out that argumentative positions taken in the heat of battle with a state sponsored church that was burning "heretics" at the stake should be viewed in a different light from the way the search for truth should have progressed in our own day. The fact that many people have chosen to rely on dogmatic formulations of the past instead of continuing to dig into what scripture really has to say is the real trouble with Calvinism (or anti-Calvinism, for that matter). Setting up arguments in terms of traditional theology is almost always going to result in falsities since scripture does not generally approach things in this way. Some such things are necessary to discuss and dispute (and I do not shy away from these issues as you may see from the site), but our ultimate objective should be to move closer to the truth in every respect day by day through diligent study of the scriptures themselves – all secondary material however wonderful is only that, secondary, and is only useful to the degree that it really does explain and illuminate scripture effectively and correctly.
In the One we love because He first loved us, our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Dear Mr Robert Luginbill,
Thank you for your email response to me on Calvinism which I have just read. I would like to make a few comments concerning the general subject my original email was concerned with.
It was kind of you to respond to my email, and to present your position concerning free will and some other topics. I mostly agree with you. I would like to point out that I am not an Arminian (not that you said I was). In the past, I have noticed that if I said I didn't agree with Calvinism, then I was immediately placed in the 'Arminian camp'.
I like to consider myself independent/individual/eclectic in my approach and understanding/study of scripture. I have realized (because of past personal experiences) that I need to be (and become) my own 'theologian' in matters concerning the bible, scripture, and religion and worship of God and Christ.
What I have again learnt is that it is virtually impossible to fully comprehend and 'neatly package' (at least to my satisfaction) certain aspects of scripture. Therefore, upon reflection, I would like to apologize for my somewhat emotional response upon reading a particular sentence in 'Peter's Epistles #6'.
That sentence was, 'The unbeliever experiences suffering in this life without God's help and support and can look forward only to punishment after death'. I have seen and learnt over all these years that there are scriptures that create a 'tension' (as scholars may call it) between different verses. I would also call it an apparent contradiction.
However, I also believe that this 'contradiction' or 'tension' of certain scriptures exists on a human level of understanding, and that in the Spiritual (Godly) plane and Kingdom they are able to be resolved.
In other words, they (these difficult, 'contradictory' scriptures) can be resolved in/on the Godly Dimension and plane, by God himself.
The reason I disagree with the above sentence is that to me, it seems to contradict certain verses in John 6: 44, and v.65. These verses state: Jn.6:44"No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day.
John 6: 65 He went on to say, "This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled him." [emphasis mine] (NIV).
On a personal level, my father passed away just on 6 months ago, from a heart attack. He wasn't a Christian. I cannot believe that, given the choice of accepting Christ and eternal life in joy and happiness and love and peace with God, and with his (my Father's) family (wife, children, his own, previously deceased parents, and other family members), that he (my Father) would in these circumstances willingly, willfully, deliberately, with full and complete knowledge of the resultant consequences of his decision, then choose to reject Christ, and Christ's offer of salvation.
That would be absolutely preposterous and unbelievable! I cannot, will not, and do not believe that this could in any way be possible!
I guess I have now come full circle (not for the first time) back to realizing that there will always be some aspects and verses of scripture that 'will not add up'. Maybe this needs to be the case, so that we (humanity) doesn't, or isn't able to 'package-up-God', and put him 'in our pocket', so to speak.
Another reason (I suspect) the Bible contains these difficulties (or apparent 'inconsistencies', 'tensions', or 'contradictions' (to me, in any case) ), may be due to the need to develop and exercise faith, as well as to demonstrate the work of the Holy Spirit in drawing, convicting, helping us in our calling and walk with God. In short, to show that it is a supernatural work of God, and not something that could be performed solely by man's (or woman's) efforts and work.
I have seen in the past, how endless it all can be, this disputing and debating about so many and varied points of doctrine, and belief, and views on what this or that scripture says or means. I think I will discontinue (at least try to discontinue) to debate etc., (in general), and continue my Christian walk with God and Christ on a personal and (if need be) independent basis.
I appreciate your work and your genuine and forthright approach and attitude in this discussion, and in your study and research endeavors. I wish you all the best in your Work and Fellowship and Walk with Christ and God, and in preaching and publishing the gospel all round the world.
Thank you for reading my email(s), and for this opportunity to present some of my views on a couple of topics.
Thanks for your e-mail. I very much agree with your statements about
apparent contradictions which are only contradictions in the thinking
and in the logic of man. Many things that seem contradictory to us are
indeed completely consistent in God's eyes (and therefore in truth), and
further, as you also suggest, believers under the influence of the
Spirit after diligent study can often come to see how these apparent
contradictions are not truly so at all, when understood from the proper
I believe that the difficulty you advance here is just such a case in point. The fact that we must be "drawn" to God seems to many to be inconsistent with universal free will. I liken this passage to the "potter" passages. If God has declined to make us vessels of honor, how could we ever be so. And then, "why does He still find fault?". Of course Paul's answer to what seems like a logical objection from the human point of view is very straightforward and very abrupt: "O [mere mortal] man, on the contrary, who do you think you are to answer back to God?!" (Rom.9:20). The point is that in truth God draws those who are willing; God elects those who are willing; God forms as vessels of honor those who are willing. And on the other hand, God rejects those who reject Him. The fact that He has made provision to sanctify and protect all whom He knows will choose for Him (1Pet.1:2), merely illustrates that being independent of the time and space He created and maintains, He is not bound by the rules He has set up for our benefit (rules without which we cannot even truly imagine existence).
I'm not sure what to tell you about your father. I feel it is safe to say that it is impossible to get through this life of tears and toil without regrets, and the loss (or expected loss) of those near and dear and/or those on whose behalf we have suffered and sacrificed much is no doubt at or near the top of that list. I can only share my own perspective on this in similar situations, namely, to suspend judgment "before the time" (1Cor.4:5). There is much we do not know, and God's mercy on behalf of those of us who love Him is not to be underestimated. Without any doubt, there are some whom we feel have perished who have in fact merely been removed from this life in discipline, but not with the complete and final destruction of their faith which their behavior and their words may indicate to us. I do not say that in our daily practice we should make ourselves vulnerable or change our method of necessary judgment, but in the case of those who have left the battlefield, all we can do is commit them to the Lord and trust in Him.
I understand what you are saying about "sure and certain knowledge" of what awaits on the other side. The whole point of our being here in this life, however, is the testing of our behavior in great ignorance of what awaits. No one can see God's glory and live. Likewise, no human being could ever see who and what God is and fail to believe. If it is true that we believers who are completely convinced of the wonders of the life to come and of the value of the reward beyond anything this pathetic life can offer can yet find ourselves becoming distracted, getting bogged down in the world, and forgetting what we really value from time to time (and which of us can claim we never do?), then it is small wonder that those who have not received the illumination of the Spirit fail to appreciate the wonder, the love, the mercy, and, yes, the fear of God.
The Lord has provided everything that anyone would ever need to test the heart, and I have absolutely no doubt that however circumstances and situations may seem to the fleshly eye today, on that day of days when all secrets are revealed it will be made clear to one and all that everyone had a fair chance, that everyone had all the information, all the truth they wanted and/or could handle, and that God's desire for the salvation of everyone was only constrained by His concern that that decision be truly free and not coerced. For it would be such a small matter for God to give us such certainty about the two alternatives on the other side of this life that what seems now a choice would swiftly become no choice at all. All He would have to do is show us the smallest part of Himself unveiled, and no one could deny Him or refuse Him. He could have made angels incapable of falling and human beings incapable of sinning – but not and have them also possess the true divine spark, the true "image and likeness of God", for that image and likeness are inextricably wrapped up in the ability to choose for Him (or to refuse to do so).
Finally, I also am in complete agreement with you about the value of the Bible in testing and developing faith by being "difficult" from our point of view. Nothing in life comes particularly easy because everything in life is meant to test our choices, and digging the truth out of scripture, and spiritual growth, and fulfilling the ministries to which we have been called are no exceptions to this rule (in fact they prove the rule). Debate for debate's sake is indeed pointless, and there is certainly such a thing as pointless theologizing, but seeking God and His will through His Word is the most important and the most valuable thing we do as Christians, because everything else we do as Christians is dependent upon His truth for its power, accuracy, and direction. Paul said that when he threw punches, he made it a point not to flail away at empty air but attempted always to make them count. I see a real value in circling in on the truth, even if because of our failings we are not always able to head straight at it by the most direct route. What is to be avoided is what you seem to be describing, namely, endless circling without drawing closer, or worse, circling out and away from the truth in the center. Seeking God the right way depends on God's power through His Spirit, proper methodology and preparation, and persistence and consistency. I certainly would not offer up this ministry as the be all and end all to your searching or anyone else's, but I would encourage you to continue to do what I believe all Christians should do, namely, to keep growing spiritually and to keep helping others to do likewise. That requires, of course, an ever closer walk with the Lord which is itself dependent upon an every deeper understanding of the truth of the Word of God. How you get there is between you and the Lord, but for most people that means finding a good source of Bible teaching somewhere, even in the case of those whose future ministries will involve feeding others (at least until such persons are fully able to "feed themselves").
Thank you for all your good words.
In the Name of the Lord of Love and Mercy, our dear Savior Jesus Christ.
Dear Dr. Luginbill,
A fellow apologist friend of mine is great at picking up the problems Unitarian types have. He also knows Greek, though not as you do. He wrote this to me; what do you think of his reasoning?
"In the meantime you can shine a spot-light on the JW conundrum by emphasizing that John makes his statement in 1st John 5:20 just before he cautions his readers to keep away from idols. Since Jesus is not an idol (untrue deity), when the Bible calls him God he must be included in the true God. The alternative is simply unacceptable, but it's the only one JWs have. If the Son is not included in the true God, he must be an untrue god and among the idols we're supposed to guard ourselves from. The WT Society has shackled it's members with a real dilemma here, what to do with Jesus. They are forbidden to include him in the true God, but they don't want to include him in the untrue category (idolatry). As Trinitarians we have a built in solution. Since we regard them as one God, Jesus can occupy first place in our lives, but since JWs deny that they are one God, Jesus cannot occupy first place... yet anything but first place is idolatry. Think about it."
However, one jw I know says that, when I asked who and what Jesus is--true God or untrue God--vis 'a vis John 17:3, he replied true god. When I said that would make 2 true Gods, not one, and make Jesus a liar, he said, not at all--Jesus is true god in one sense, but in a different sense than the Father. What do you think of THAT argument? I still focused on the fact that Jesus said "the ONLY true God"--which leaves no wiggle room, if you ask me since there would then be only one "type" of deity.
Well I certainly agree with your conclusion. As far as
your friends logic and reverse logic go, I am always a tad leery to put
much weight on these sorts of things simply because even when we think
we are being logical, there can be layers of truth we haven't yet peeled
back. Free will and divine sovereignty seem contradictory to many people
by this sort of reasoning (to quote one example), though to my view the
apparent logical contradictions stem from a failure to take certain
evidence into account. To take another example, epistemology, in terms
of pure logic, Kant is hard to refute; that doesn't make him right; he's
dead wrong because he doesn't take into account that God's
epistemological process is essentially spiritual (i.e., the Holy Spirit
to our human spirit: 1Cor.2:9-16; cf. Rom.8:16), making the subjectivity
of human perceptive faculties largely irrelevant. But as I say since the
conclusion here is independently verifiable as correct, I won't quibble
too much about the process. It is certainly intellectually resourceful!
Yours in Christ,
What are your thoughts on Harry A. Ironside?
Ironside was a fairly famous figure in the dispensational circles in
which I cut my teeth many years ago, although I confess I never spent a
lot of time reading his materials. My feelings on dispensationalism in
general are pretty clearly laid out in the writings at Ichthys. A short
take: it helped to advance our understanding of eschatology at the time
it was first in vogue, but a slavish fixation on early versions of this
schema can be confusing and misleading (see in
SR#5: "Dispensations"). The main difficulty I have found in such
works, including the little bit I know of Ironside (and to be fair my
knowledge of him is not deep), is that such interpreters tended to use
their dispensational model as a dominant lens with which to categorize
and interpret all other scripture so that the theory became in many
instances superior to the scripture it was being used to interpret. This
is an occupational hazard of all systems of biblical interpretation (I
would certainly not claim to be immune, although I try to avoid this
trap), and the only way to guard against it is to ever be examining the
specific scripture one is considering on its own merits before trying to
jam it into one's own particular "cookie cutter". Bible teachers and
professors I have respected in the past have universally spoken well of
Ironside, but that does not mean of course that they would have
unconditionally validated everything he said or wrote (let alone what I
say or write). So from what I know, he worked in the vineyard of the
Lord according to the gifts given him, and contributed to the growth of
the Church of Jesus Christ. To what degree or to what extent he will be
rewarded on that day of days, only God knows – but that is surely the
case with you and I as well, and with everyone else. When it comes to
such celebrated figures, I have found it the best policy to avoid all
personal criticism, make doctrinal distinctions sharply but
professionally where necessary, respect the effort and the achievement
even when feeling that one is a bit closer to the truth, and trying
always to remember that we are all human and all capable of making
mistakes even as we strive – and ought to strive – to get as close to
the truth and as close to the Lord as possible.
Hope this helps.
In the One who is the truth, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
I thank you very much for our responsive words in your previous e-mail.
Words. You use words very precisely, going back to the original intent of many to encourage true understanding.
I glanced at a book by Desmond Tutu, "GOD HAS A DREAM," - A Vision of Hope for Our Time, and I skimmed to see how he used the word "hope." I ran into Chapter 5, "God Only Has Us." The first sentences read: Dear Child of God, do you realize that God needs you? Do you realize that you are God's partner? When there is someone hungry, God wants to perform the miracle of feeding that person. But it won't any longer be through manna falling from heaven. Normally, more usually, God can do nothing until we provide God with the means, the bread and the fish, to feed the hungry. When a person is naked, God wants to perform the miracle of clothing that person, but it won't be with a Carducci suit or Calvin Klein outfit floating from heaven. No, it will be because you and I, all of us, have agreed to be God's fellow workers, providing God with the raw material for performing miracles."
The feeling about these scenes and mostly likely subsequent behavior are quite different when the point of departure is, according to your writing: "God does not need us!" (in "Satanic Lie #3: 'God needs me.')
The clarity of your words as related to the authentic teachings of the Bible marks your writings as a great blessing for me. I have read so much and explored so many religious perspectives that I'm struck by how "at home" I am now feeling with your rendition of the teachings of Our Dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I feel that I am getting stronger each day in my capacity to understand what is gong on around me and in the world. I am more at ease with my role in loving God and worshiping his Son, Jesus Christ.
I am a member of the local United Church of Christ, but so far, it is not a spiritually inspiring place to be. There is a heavy "God needs us" political agenda in the church, and most people are far from the clarity of creationism expressed in your writings. I am sure the Lord has something in store for me through all of this. I am at ease in the moment.
With Love and Blessings, in Jesus Christ Our Lord and Savior, (near tears),
I am deeply humbled by your response, and deeply gratified by your
enthusiasm. Nothing gives me greater pleasure than when my fellow
believers are benefited by these materials (you are certainly one His
holy ones who are "the glorious ones in whom is all my delight",
Your quotation of Bishop Tutu is extremely interesting for me. I had never seen this quote, but it certainly summarizes the opposite point of view brilliantly. In fact, it is so well put that any believer with a sensitive heart would have pause and cause to look deep into that heart and examine his/her motives and biblical viewpoint. It is certainly the case that few people are aware of just how incredibly effective the evil one can be. He uses our consciences against us all the time. He uses what seems to be good just as effectively as what is clearly evil, without qualms and without pity. Two people can be giving a thirsty person a cup of cold water, one doing it "as unto the Lord", while the other has an agenda so twisted and influenced by the devil that he/she is doubtless not even aware that the good being done is in an evil cause. In all such matters, one litmus test is always to see whether those doing "good" are concerned with motive behind it and the purpose for it. Generally speaking, those promoting actions of "good" apart from God consider the motive unimportant and the "good act" an end in itself. Students of scripture realize that unless God is motivating the action (directly or indirectly), it is most probably being co-opted by the devil in one way or another, with Satan using it not only to further a broader agenda, but also to suck the "do-gooder" deeper and deeper into his web. Secondly, actions always have results, and since this world is far more complicated than we could really ever imagine (at least if we have a humble bone in our bodies), there would be no way for us to be sure that what we are doing will not be mis-used except for the fact of God's superintendence of what we believers do in the power of the Holy Spirit. How much more is this not the case then when we factor in the massive unseen conflict raging around us!
I can certainly sympathize with your disaffection with your church. I and most who come to find a haven of sorts in this ministry have had similar experiences in all sorts of denominations. This is the Church era of Laodicea, and we can expect apathy and superficiality to be the norm throughout its run, especially the closer the end comes (see the link: Coming Tribulation Part 2A: The Seven Churches of Revelation). There are a few men out there doing substantive Bible teaching, but in my observation and experience they are few and far between, and are not meeting with significant response at that. I began this ministry partly for that reason (a brick-and-mortar church seemed and seems out of the question for a ministry of this sort), and even more to provide an answer for Christians who were asking me, "Well, where can I find some solid Bible study?".
Finally, I am completely certain that the Lord has something definitely in mind and in store for you. And I heartily affirm your attitude of humble expectation. It will be made clear to you where and when and how.
In Him for whom nothing is impossible, our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Did you ever study under Colonel Robert B. Thieme, and is it true you went to Talbot Theological Seminary? Could you tell me something about it and whether they follow the teachings of Dr. L.S. Chafer? Also, could you give me some advice on the best course of action for academic preparation for the ministry? I am planning to go back and get a second B.A. as a first step (many Univ. of Wisconsin). Can you tell me anything about good places for Classical Greek and the other languages?
Guilty on both counts! As you can see from my Curriculum Vitae, I did attend Talbot Theological (a most Chafer-esque place at the time). And I did indeed learn about Talbot from one of Col. Thieme's tapes. I would certainly not presume to suggest, however, that my studies represent the teachings of either man (though I sometimes cite Chafer and occasionally Thieme in footnotes where applicable). I haven't had much direct contact with Col. Thieme's ministry for many years, though I do still have a collection of his books which occasionally prove quite helpful.
As to Talbot, I could no more recommend it than I could any other
evangelical seminary. For one thing, there was quite a shuffle there
several years after I graduated and many of the old-line people like Dr.
Thomas (of the NASB concordance and harmony fame) left. My sense from
the alumni letters they send is that they are turning to more
"Easy-listening" Christianity which is the hyper-church trend nationwide
(mostly show and not much go from the standpoint of those who are truly
seeking God through His Word). Even when I was there, my taper friends
and I spent a good deal of our time debating with fellow students and
faculty (I like to think I did so in a respectful way - most of the
time, anyway). But in spite of the negatives you may encounter, I still do
believe some seminary "experience" is essential for someone who wants to
teach the Word of God. Believe me, I ground my teeth many's the day at
Talbot (chapel was the worst), but I can't imagine my life or my
ministry without it.
I applaud your second B.A. decision, by the way, and not only because it's exactly what I did. On the one hand you're not going to learn much if any serious Greek or Hebrew in seminary, and on the other, in order to separate wheat from chaff and get the most out of your seminary experience, you really need to know both languages before you get there.
That brings up another point: whatever school you choose for a second B.A. needs to have a good biblical Hebrew program (at least two years, even if the second is via independent study). Modern Hebrew is helpful (more applicable than Modern Greek), but it can't substitute for studying Biblical Hebrew.
As to Classical Greek, there are many fine institutions you would be well served to look into. UW is known for having a fine Classics program – on the under-graduate level that ought to be more than sufficient. More care is needed when selecting a graduate program (one has to take into account specialties of the professors on hand and depth of the dept. etc.). Also on the west coast, Berkeley, UCLA and Stanford are all quite well-respected. Nation-wide, U. of Michigan, Cincinnati, U. of Chicago, Penn., U. of Illinois and most of the ivy league places round out the top ten to twenty. But one really good professor who knows his or her stuff can take you a long way: if it's just a question of Greek, the main thing is how much dedication YOU are willing to put in, not how many professors they have.
I'd be happy to answer any more specific questions you might have on this - hard to know what to do until you've done it with this sort of thing.
Yours in Christ,