According to the National Center for Education Statistics, there are nearly 600 Christian-affiliated institutions of higher education in the United States (Noble & Blackhurst, 2015). Several hundred of these institutions are graduate seminary schools specifically focused on teaching the Bible, but most of these institutions are undergraduate schools that offer a variety of degrees including those focused on the Bible and theology. For young, Christian people applying to college in a pluralistic, progressive, success driven society, the question may arise: is there any practical value in earning a degree in Bible and Theology? In short, yes. The applications for earning a degree in Bible and Theology have changed over the years, and we would argue that the possibilities for a biblical and theologically centered degree have largely diversified.
Dr. Bradley Harper, Director and Professor of Bible and Theology and Assistant Dean in the School of Biblical and Theological Studies at Multnomah University says, “I’ve been teaching at Multnomah for over 20 years. When I first started teaching here, most students who came to Multnomah were coming because they really want to study Bible and Theology, and maybe minor in something else as well. Now, it’s very different. Students are coming here for many different reasons and majors. They’re not all coming here because the thing on the top of their list is Bible and Theology.” The landscape of biblical higher education is changing because the interests and options for Christian men and women seeking higher education are vast.
People earning a degree in Bible and Theology are no longer just those who want to be pastors or missionaries or Bible teachers; it extends to anyone with a desire to incorporate a biblical worldview into their career of choice. Often, in Dr. Harper’s theology classes with undergraduate students, questions arise such as “How does this apply to my life as a business person?” “How is this going to engage my work as a social worker?” “How can I use this information as someone who is going into science?” “Why does this matter to me?” When asked about his thoughts on these kinds of questions, Dr. Harper said, “Those are actually fabulous questions. I love those questions. I love dealing with that because theology isn’t something that just lives in the church. Theology is life-transforming, and it should transform the way we engage people wherever we are.”
Dr. Harper shared a story of a meeting that he had with a former student. This young man graduated from Multnomah with a degree in Bible and Theology, went to law school, and now works at an excellent law firm where he deals with people in all different arenas of life. The majority of their conversation was about what it looks like for this student, in his job as a lawyer, to represent Jesus to his clients in situations where he can’t openly talk about Jesus. He has a desire to represent Jesus by engaging these people through the lens of the law that he practices and by helping them better their lives. Dr. Harper said, “It was a fabulous conversation. He is able to incorporate the theology that he learned and what it taught him about what it looks like to engage culture— what it looks like to talk about life with people who perhaps have no religious beliefs or spiritual thoughts at all. Theology matters, and I love to make that case.”
A biblical education can function as a foundation for a career full of meaning and intentionality regardless of the field in which you may be gifted to work. Not everyone is called to be a pastor or a Bible scholar. Some people are called to be engineers, nurses, lawyers, or architects, and the list goes on and on. No matter what you might be called to do, a foundation in Biblical literacy has practical value for every practicing believer because theology isn’t just something that lives in the church; it is life-transforming, and it should transform the way we engage people wherever we are.
If you would like to continue in this conversation and are interested in learning more about these topics, getting your Bachelor of Arts in Bible and Theology might be the right next step for you. If you would like to study with Dr. Harper, check out the Bible and Theology program at Multnomah University in Portland, OR. For more details on the program or to receive an application by mail, contact Admissions at (800) 275-4672 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Noble, B., & Blackhurst, K., 2015. Newsmax’s top 100 evangelical Christian colleges. Newsmax Media. Retrieved from https://www.newsmax.com/TheWire/top-evangelical-christian-colleges/2015/10/26/id/699072/