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The Battle for Christian Scholarship

TMU faculty make significant contributions to Academia

 

Explore the publications written by our professors (comprehensive lists provided to the left).

 

There is a war being waged throughout the academic institutions of our nation, a war for the legitimacy of Christian education. As American society increasingly accepts the supremacy of science over religion and cultural deviancy over traditional morality, institutions like The Master’s University will seem bigoted and behind the times.

Our faculty are on the front lines of this battle, fighting for a biblically-informed view of art, literature, science, education and every other academic discipline. It’s an uphill battle against those who believe accreditation should only be awarded to colleges who conform to the theories of modern science (i.e. evolution).

In June 2014, Peter Conn, professor of English and education at the University of Pennsylvania wrote a commentary in the "Chronicle of Higher Education," condemning the accreditation of religious institutions.

“I have no particular objection to like-minded adherents of one or another religion banding together, calling their association a college, and charging students for the privilege of having their religious beliefs affirmed,” he wrote. “However, I have a profound objection to legitimizing such an association through accreditation, and thereby conceding that the integrity of scholarship and teaching is merely negotiable. I also object to the expenditure of taxpayer dollars in support of religious ideology, in particular when that ideology has set itself in opposition to the findings of modern science.”

What this author fails to realize is that Christian educators, and particularly the professors at The Master’s University, ascribe to the same standards of excellence as any secular scholars. In addition to providing a biblically sound, world class education, TMU professors have made contributions to their respective fields that are both numerous and significant.

One of the hallmarks of The Master’s University is our commitment to the inerrancy and divine inspiration of the Bible. While there are many schools in America that study the Bible as an ancient literary document, very few treat it as the holy Word of God. But ours is not a blind commitment to religious dogma. The professors in our Biblical Studies Department have devoted years of their lives to the study of the Bible and know firsthand its integrity in the face of secular criticism and its power to transform lives.

Dr. Abner Chou has been teaching at TMU since 2004, including two years at the Israel Bible Extension in Jerusalem. His interests include biblical languages, theology, Old Testament intertextuality and Israel studies. Most recently he has written two scholarly works. The first, published by Wipf and Stock in 2013, is an in-depth look at the theology of visions from God in the Bible. "I Saw the Lord: A Biblical Theology of Vision" started as a paper presented to the Evangelical Theological Society. The Society encouraged him to pursue the topic further. In 2014, Dr. Chou published a commentary on Lamentations, as part of the "Evangelical Exegetical Commentary" series by Lexham Press.

Dr. Will Varner, who has also been published by Lexham Press, contributed to the same commentary series with his book on James, also published in 2014. A published author since 1984, Dr. Varner has written on a wide variety of biblical topics, including a devotional on the Psalms, a study of the tribes of Israel, a book about the Prophet Elijah and an additional study of the book of James.

In keeping with the belief that the Bible speaks to all areas of life, Dr. John Street in the Biblical Counseling Department teaches that modern psychological theories are not adequate to solve problems of the soul. “We live in a surrounding culture that says only the professionals with a degree in psychotherapy (have) the capacity to really deal with the serious problems of life,” Dr. Street said in a 2012 interview at Compass Bible Church in Aliso Viejo, Calif.

He maintains that the Bible is sufficient and complete to address depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, marital problems and other typical counseling issues. To that end, Dr. Street has contributed his wisdom to a number of books, including "Men Counseling Men," "Think Biblically!" and "How to Counsel Biblically." He also currently serves on the board of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, which offers a rigorous training and certification program for pastors, professors and laypeople desiring to counsel biblically.

Biblical counselors find the basis for their practice in the New Testament, where believers are commanded to disciple and admonish one another in verses such as 1 Thessalonians 5:14: “We urge you, brethren, admonish the unruly, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with everyone” (NASB). The Bible addresses worry, anxiety and sin, the root of many so-called psychological disorders, according to Dr. Street, but he said that assigning a secular label makes it seem as if the Bible is silent on such issues.

“If you use a secular label then you’re going to get a secular remedy,” he said in the 2012 interview. “If you use a biblical label, then you’re going to find a biblical remedy.”

Dr. Street isn’t the only one using his scholarship to combat a secular worldview. Professors in the Biology Department stand for a scriptural view of science and a literal interpretation of Genesis 1, which denies the notion that all creatures evolved from a common ancestor due to blind chance. In the book "Think Biblically!," written by TMU faculty and edited by John MacArthur, chemistry professor Dr. Taylor Jones argues that science is the effort of fallible man to explain the world around him. While science can come to some reasonable conclusions, like the laws of gravity and thermodynamics, the Bible is the only source of truth that is completely reliable.

“The true scientist is not so foolish to look at creation and deny the One who made it (Ps 14:1),” he wrote. “He/she also rightly understands that to close one’s eyes to the testimony of creation is not true science (Ps 19:1). To do so is illogical, irrational, and willful unbelief.”

The chairperson of the Science Department, Dr. Joseph Francis, teaches biology and specializes in microscopy, cellular immunology, invertebrate biology and microbiology. He has published numerous articles in "Answers Magazine" of Answers in Genesis ministry. Before coming to The Master's University, he served four years as a post-doctoral fellow and one year as a research scientist at the University of Michigan. Like Dr. Jones, instead of seeing his biblical worldview as a hindrance to science, Dr. Francis is inspired by his love for God’s creation. In his articles and other writings he shows how the intricacies of biology point to a wise creator and would have had no chance of evolving on their own.

One student described encountering quite a different attitude at the public high school she attended before coming to TMU.

“I actually had a teacher in high school tell me that if I didn’t believe in evolution I had to denounce all of science,” said Kaylin Youngs, a biology major at TMU, “and he told me that I would be brainwashed at a Christian school.”

But students at The Master’s University are far from being brainwashed. In addition to sitting under the teaching of experts in science and biblical studies, they learn from faculty who have made significant contributions to the study of history and political science. Dr. Gregg Frazer has been with TMU since 1988 and is currently a leading scholar in the study of the American Founding Fathers and their religion. His major work, "The Religious Beliefs of America’s Founders: Reason, Revelation, and Revolution" (published in 2012), argues that the majority of secular scholars, as well as Christian political activists, have misunderstood the religious standing of the Founding Fathers. Dr. Frazer debunks the position of secular historians that the founders were forerunners to the “freedom from religion” camp. On the other hand, he also disagrees with the popular evangelical view that the United States was founded on Christian principles and needs to be restored to its biblical foundation. His book “seeks to allow they key founders to speak for themselves so that we can understand their religious beliefs on their own terms,” according to his introduction.

He has been published in two additional books on the founding of America: a chapter on Alexander Hamilton in "The Forgotten Founders on Religion and Public Life" and a chapter on Gouverneur Morris in "Faith and the Founders of the American Republic."

The Music Department also benefits from the leadership of world-class faculty. Accredited by the National Association of Schools of Music since 2007, the department employs professors and instructors who are internationally recognized musicians and composers in their own right. Dr. Paul Plew, who has been at the helm of the department for 35 years, directs two TMU choirs: a 160-member campus choir and The Master’s Chorale, a 65-member auditioned choir. The Chorale, under Dr. Plew’s direction, has been invited to perform all over the world in prestigious venues. In 2003 and 2007, they performed at Carnegie Hall in New York City. In 2013 they sang in the Church of the Beatitudes in Israel (overlooking the Sea of Galilee), as well as several other locations. During the same trip they traveled to Geneva, Switzerland, where they gave concerts at the Calvin Cathedral and the United Nations building.

The backgrounds and experiences of TMU music faculty are varied and unique. Dr. Carolyn Simons, Fulbright Scholar and former board member of the American Musical Instrument Society, conducts the Women’s Chamber Choir.

Professor of vocal studies and opera, Dr. Kimberlyn Jones has more than 25 opera roles to her credit, having performed in Austria, Germany, Switzerland, England and Wales, in addition to joining The Master’s Chorale as an alto soloist at Carnegie Hall in 2007.

Once a year, the college is honored by an appearance of guest faculty member Dr. Dan Forrest. Dr. Forrest's choral works have received numerous awards and distinctions from organizations such as the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers, the American Choral Directors Association and the Association of Lutheran Church Musicians. Recently his music has been performed in Argentina, the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. and Osaka, Japan. In April 2014, Dr. Forrest debuted a new setting of the hymn “And Can It Be” in honor of Dr. Plew’s 35th anniversary as chairperson of the department.

This is just a small sample of the scholarship here at The Master’s University, and there simply isn’t room to go into detail about every book, article and scholarly presentation produced by our faculty. We are blessed to sit under the tutelage of men and women who love God, love their field and are committed to life-long learning. We may be fighting for the validity of Christian education in this country, but the battle is in good hands.

If you are interested in reading some of the works published by the faculty of The Master’s University, explore the lists provided to the left, organized by department.