Christian Studies & Philosophy Department Overview
Dr. Brian Shelton, Chair
Fulfilling the Great Commission requires active intellectual life, strong leadership, and the ability to engage the world’s cultures in a time of ever-increasing diversity and change. With this calling in mind, our Department seeks to deepen students’ understanding of the Christian faith and shape their worldview in ways that are rooted in Scripture, theology, and philosophy. Recognizing the deep connection between faith and practice, faculty use classroom and experiential learning contexts to prepare students for effective ministry in a wide range of callings. As part of a full-orbed liberal arts education, the majors supported by the Department are thus designed to prepare students for service in the church, the academy, society, and throughout the world.
Bible and Theology Program
The Bible-Theology Major offers an in-depth exploration of biblical content and theology. The major prepares men and women for vocational ministry and theological scholarship.
- The Pre-seminary concentration equips students for seminary and graduate level education. Men and women in this program have opportunity to develop the writing and research skills necessary to succeed in graduate school and ultimately to serve in pastoral and other leadership roles in church and society.
- The Pre-ministry concentration seeks to prepare men and women for ministry immediately following college. These students take courses, among others, in preaching, pastoral theology, biblical interpretation, and Christian Ministries in order to be as equipped as possible to enter some types of ministry without further seminary education.
Each of these tracks emphasizes biblical content and background, theological understanding, and exegetical skills. Both facilitate interpreting the Bible in its historical, cultural context and the ability to apply biblical principles to ministry in everyday life. In addition to studying individual books of the Old and New Testaments, students explore the rich historical and theological legacy of the Church and its implications for today.
As part of our goals for our students, the department provides opportunities for study abroad and cross-cultural experiences. In recent years our faculty members have sponsored study-tours to Greece, Turkey, and Israel. Some of our students have spent a semester in Israel earning course credit in biblical history and archaeology.
Christian Ministries Programs
The Christian Ministries Program offers opportunity to increase understanding and thoughtful participation in the work of the church, with particular focus on the educational, discipleship, and missional components of that work. Majors demonstrate special concern for exploring ways to meet spiritual needs, from a Biblical perspective, as they exist individually and socially in various cultures.
A core of courses anchors students in Biblical/theological studies, including basic understandings of the Church and its mission in the world, in foundational practices of Bible study and other spiritual disciplines, and in experiences leading to effective ministry. Each program requires students to participate in a ministry internship. Students may major in Christian Ministries, Missions, or Youth Ministry; minors are also available in each of these areas. The department’s Resource Center makes a wide variety of materials available for student study, as well as for applied ministry.
The Christian Ministries Major prepares students for leadership in the disciple-making and teaching ministry of the church and parachurch. Preparation is supported through study of human developmental patterns and ministry approaches throughout the life cycle. A concern for organizational leadership and curricular resources contributing to spiritual formation is reflected in course offerings. Experiential learning occurs throughout the program.
The Intercultural Studies Major prepares students for cross-cultural ministry in an international setting or among ethnic groups in the United States. This program seeks to equip students with knowledge and understanding of the issues of intercultural interaction in general and cross-cultural communication of the Christian gospel in particular. Using a multidisciplinary approach, students learn to analyze intercultural problems, work within the arena of cultural diversity, and form the conceptual framework and practical skills needed for effective cross-cultural communication and ministry. Students complete a core of classes, then select one of three areas of concentration to complete the major: Cross-cultural Ministry prepares students to work within church and para-church settings; Social Justice equips students to engage in ministry among the poor, the oppressed, and the abused; Business as Mission provides a new mission tool for reaching the unreached world through an integration of spiritual and social concerns with the purpose of addressing needs of the least resourced peoples of the world.
The Pastoral Ministries Major prepares students to serve as a pastor or staff minister in a variety of local church and parachurch settings. This program combines classical foundational studies in Biblical interpretation, Church history, and theology with practical ministry courses in leadership, pastoral formation, preaching, worship, Christian education, evangelism, counseling and contextualization. This degree is designed to meet the educational requirements for ordination in some denominations and provides a solid practical foundation for those planning to immediately go into church ministry or for those preparing for seminary.
The Worship Arts Major equips students theologically, spiritually, and technically to play significant leadership roles in the worship arts in congregations. Building on a foundation of biblically- and theologically-informed study of the church and its worship, the program leads students in personal spiritual growth and in opportunity to develop abilities to lead in music, media ministry, drama, the visual arts, and intra-church relationships in today’s church.
The Youth Ministry Major prepares students for leadership roles in ministry with adolescents in church and parachurch. Rooted in theological reflection and the study and understanding of the unique developmental journey of youth, this major equips students for evaluating various models of ministry with adolescents and developing their own consistent approach. A focus on teaching and mentoring youth is supported by study and practice in evangelism, discipleship, counseling, recreation, and assessment of cultural systems and influences that affect youth, with a goal of guiding youth to Christian maturity and participation in the Church’s ministry.
The purpose of the Philosophy Major is to acquaint the student with the field of philosophy, including its relevance to the formation of a Christian worldview. In this process, philosophy becomes an important element in preparation for both meaningful vocation and general intellectual life.
The curriculum in philosophy acquaints the student with the history of philosophy, the world’s great philosophers, basic schools of thought, key areas of philosophy, and the classic questions in the field. In addition to the information conveyed in the curriculum, philosophy at Asbury seeks to develop key cognitive skills in the student: clear thinking, analysis, logical argumentation, critique. Beyond the level of skill acquisition, the curriculum is also designed to nurture the higher intellectual functions of understanding and valuing, which have traditionally been associated with wisdom.
Philosophy serves as an attractive major or minor as well as an enriching elective for any other field of study. As an undergraduate major, philosophy serves as a basis for graduate work in philosophical, theological, or divinity programs. A student can also major in philosophy in order to do graduate work in other fields, provided that he or she has done the necessary preparation in that other field. Philosophy is a beneficial second major as well, since it equips the student with cognitive skills and expands his or her understanding. As a minor, philosophy fits well with any major, since it is flexible and provides additional insight into one’s first major and into intellectual issues more broadly. Simply taking some philosophy courses as electives helps the student in pursuing intellectual interests outside his or her major field.
Some career options open to philosophy majors are law, medicine, business, politics, government service, journalism, and writing. Historically, only philosophy majors score 5% or more above the mean on these important exams: LSAT, GMAT, GRE Verbal, and GRE Quantitative. Philosophy majors as a group have a higher mean score on the GRE Verbal than students in any other major. Surveys of medical schools indicate that philosophy is the preferred major for applicants who are otherwise qualified in chemistry and biology.
Philosophy is essential to being a truly educated person – that is, to being a person who understands our cultural heritage, sees life holistically, discerns and critiques the assumptions of competing world views, and acts upon principle. This kind of education lays a ground work for success in any career because it enhances one’s ability to deal with a wide variety of ideas and perspectives represented among different people, to solve complex problems, and to articulate a vision.
OT 100, NT 100, and TH 250 are Foundations course requirements for all students and do not apply to the majors and minors listed above.
2020-21 Academic Catalog