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From Sweden to Bethel

Seminary student Marina Hannus on theology, community, and her transition from Sweden to Bethel.

The education system in Sweden, when it comes to theology, is at a turning point right now. There’s a gap between science and religion. The organization that oversees all higher education, the way they view it right now is that science is what we know, and faith is just personal opinion.

In a way, it’s really fascinating. I’m passionate about Apologetics. This process, and the way they view theology, trying to make it scientific…I won’t say it’s a good thing, but something good may come out of it. They’re discussing what’s science and what’s religion more and more. And how can we merge them together, or can we merge them together?

Because of all this I started looking at seminaries outside of Sweden. I felt like it was important to get a degree in it.

The main reason I chose Bethel is because I’ve been listening to podcasts from Woodland Hills Church for the past 5 years. Greg Boyd, the senior pastor there, has mentioned Bethel. When I started looking at schools I had no idea. I’d never been to Minnesota. But I felt like I could trust Bethel because of what I’d heard Greg Boyd say about it.

I feel like the biggest culture shocks were actually the small things. I was prepared for the big changes, like speaking English, which I’m getting used to. One of my first days here I went to have pizza and I was drinking Fanta, bit it tastes different here. It used to be my favorite drink in Europe. I was trying to send a letter, but I didn’t know where to find stamps in this country. I really like baking and cooking. But I can’t really find the same ingredients here that I can in Sweden. There are a couple of things that I order specially on the internet to have the right stuff. The small things you don’t really think about.

I’m doing the Master of Arts in Theological Studies. Right now I’m taking Hebrew and Hermeneutics. I really like the fact that we have to learn the languages. I feel like that’s an important part if you want to study theology and the Bible, to be able to learn and read the original language. At the same time, it’s turned out to be really difficult to learn a third language through a second language. It’s interesting. My favorite thing is that my brain is constantly activated.

I always felt like I had a sense of calling, but not to a specific job. More to what kind of questions I’d like to be involved in. The questions of science and religion. I think that if God really created the world, which I believe, then the way we experience and understand the world has to coincide with that. So they’re not, in my view, opposites. We should be able to bring them together. My opinion is that they answer different questions. Science explains how the world works, and the Bible answers why.

I was raised in a small town in Sweden, and there were almost no Christians there. There was me and I think there was one other girl in my whole school that were Christian. I got asked a lot of questions and I was sort of picked on for my faith early on, even before I knew what I believed in. So I started questioning things very early and wanting to know how it all fit together.

Then I read “Letters from a Skeptic” by Greg Boyd. And I finally felt like someone was taking those questions seriously. I think my interest in science and faith has a lot to do with that experience.

Years later I went to a Bible school for a semester. One of my teachers was really thinking about those same kinds of questions and he became a mentor for me. After I had unloaded a lot of my questions and struggles on him, he said that I should listen to sermons from this church in the U.S. I had no idea it was Greg Boyd’s church or that they were connected. So it took maybe a year after I started listening to the sermons that I realized it was the author of the book that meant so much to me as a teenager. That’s one of the things I really appreciated about those sermons, that he had the guts to ask hard questions.

There are so many people here that I’ve connected to really quickly. Even though I’m outgoing and I love meeting new people, I’m kind of surprised at how easy it was for me to meet new people. People think it’s cool that I’m from Sweden, which I can’t get used to. It’s not really an accomplishment. I was just born there. It’s funny.

I was kind of nervous at first about having a roommate. I’ve lived on my own for the last 5 or 6 years. I’ve never actually shared an apartment with anyone other than my family. But it’s going really well. It’s kind of special to get to know someone through living with them, which I’ve never experienced before.

I love to hang out with people. Friends are very important to me. I’m a very relational person. Apart from that, I love doing a lot of creative things. I’m a photographer. I play some instruments and I sing and I do scrapbooking. I like to bake and cook.

More info about Marina

M.A. in Theological Studies

Bethel Seminary

Jönköping, Sweden

Photography, one-on-ones with people (sharing life), music, theological and philosophical discussions, almost anything creative.