Through the Crucible
Transformed for a Life of Service
It’s no great secret that there are many easier ways to obtain a degree from Asbury (or any other university, for that matter) than to study in the Mathematics Department. Why would any sane person choose to pursue a program in a department that requires so much more effort?
A major or minor in this department can prepare you to enter many fields that are currently in high demand.
The answer that you’d receive from most colleges and universities relates to flexibility and earning potential in choosing a profession. It’s certainly true that picking a major or minor in this department can prepare you to enter many fields that are currently in high demand. Most people think that math majors are preparing to teach math at some level. Similarly, a computer science minor traditionally prepares one to play a key role in information technology. Currently, schools at all levels are desperate for math faculty and the high demand for professionals in information technology shows no sign of abating. These traditional career paths are very viable for students in our department; they also provide a tremendous opportunity for Christian service and witness, as many of our department’s alumni will affirm. In addition to these areas, however, many new and varied opportunities await our graduates. These opportunities range from working as a computational scientists on a science or engineering team at a government or industry laboratory to taking a leadership role in the business world as an actuary or financial mathematician. While some of these paths are less developed than other science careers like medicine or engineering, the flexibility that a degree from our department affords provides many varied and potentially lucrative options.
The programs in our department will help you develop your life in Christ
At Asbury, we agree that the issues mentioned above are important and valid considerations for choosing a difficult program like the ones offered in our department. We believe, however, that the primary concern for the Asbury student is how you develop as a believer in Christ, not what skills you learn to earn a living. The best way to find happiness is to seek God’s call on your life and to grow into who He wants you to be. We believe the programs in our department will help you develop your life in Christ. This is the primary reason for choosing a more difficult path.
Romans 12: 1-2 give a synopsis of how this transformation takes place serve as the theme verses for our department:
And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind He will accept. When you think of what He has done for you, is this too much to ask? Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will know what God wants you to do and you will know how good and pleasing and perfect His will really is. (NLT)
Notice that the whole process begins with our dedication to God. This act of commitment is the central theme of the Holiness tradition. A ‘compartmentalized’ Christian life is a miserable and ineffective way to live. We don’t believe that your choice of a major or minor should be separated from your spiritual life. If we have placed Christ on the throne of our lives, everything becomes an act of worship—from scriptural exegesis to integration by parts!
The study of mathematics and computer science is one of the best ways to renew your mind.
At Asbury, we seek to develop an environment where your mind may be renewed. This is a process by which you allow the Holy Spirit to have more control of your life and mind. While we believe the primary ‘means of grace’ for this renewal are the guidance of the Spirit through prayer and the study of the Word, we also believe that your mind is renewed as you study other things ‘that are pure and noble’. In fact, that’s they key premise on which Christian liberal arts education is based. While many will surely disagree, All educators agree that the study of mathematics develops certain intellectual disciplines that are valuable in many areas of study. In fact, that is one of the primary reasons that math majors appear so flexible in their choices of careers. As believers, however, we believe that developing the ‘mathematical mind’ is compatible with the ‘renewed mind’ of Romans 12.
Mathematicians and computer scientists have a unique appreciation for the beauty, logic and attention to detail that is grown in the nursery of rigorous proof and programming. Some of our clearest expositors of Scripture have developed their sharp logic in mathematics. Applied mathematicians have an increased appreciation for the power, structure and beauty of our Father’s world because they have developed models for some of the natural phenomenon that they have seen. They also develop a keen sense of priority as they struggle with which properties are essential to a model, and which are secondary. Computer scientists are able to visualize and organize vast quantities of information that would overwhelm others unaccustomed to the rigorous organization skills needed by the veteran programmer.
The particular skills of the mathematician or computer scientist are complemented by the character development required in these studies.
The particular skills of the mathematician or computer scientist are complemented by the character development required in these studies. With rare exceptions, students who choose to study in these areas will have to develop unusually good study and time management skills. The rigors of the courses also force our students to develop group study skills. In a very true sense, our students must learn how to work effectively and ‘play well with others’, or they simply won’t be able to complete their programs. We also see a spiritual benefit to staying in this ‘crucible’. Again, with rare exceptions, most students in our programs will face their own personal limits at some point in their studies. That’s when we really learn to lean on Christ as our ultimate Truth Revealer, and we also learn to humble ourselves and ask for help from those who may not struggle at the same point. While these times are very uncomfortable, they provide the key growth points of developing the renewed mind. When we develop into who He wants us to be, the task of finding His will in regards to a profession will be a natural progression.
The programs in our department are carefully designed to expose you to various aspects of mathematics and computer science.
So, how do we begin the process of developing the mathematical mind? The programs in our department are carefully designed to expose you to various aspects of mathematics and computer science. As you move through these sequences, our faculty can help you decide which areas you may want to pursue for additional study. Compared to other departments, our programs require careful planning because our higher-level courses build on the lower-level courses. So, our basic advice is to keep taking the courses that you enjoy and gain as much breadth in your exposure as possible.