Q&A 3: Why Get a Degree in Religion?

by Max Andrews

Q&A GraphicQuestion:

Hello there Max Andrews, my name is Brian Urias. I’m 19 years old, live in Virginia, and am planning on transferring to Liberty University, or to whatever school the Lord leads me to go. I have a heart and passion for Gods kingdom and seeing lives change for Jesus Christ. I’ve been particularly interested in theology and apologetics since my junior year of high school. I literally have a whole library of books on theology and apologetics in my house haha. My long term goal is to be a professor and publish my own work and continue to spread the gospel throughout the academia as you are. I know this is all random so let me get to the point. One day I decided to look up local Christian apologists on google and your website came up. I watched a portion of your debate and read some of your other material and I must say that God has given you a gift! It honestly inspired so much. I know this is all very random, but I have a question. I saw that you got your bachelors in Biblical studies, and I want to know what exactly you did from that point? I love Gods word and I feel that he might be calling me to major in Biblical studies as well. I don’t necessarily fear what people would think, I just fear what people say about “Bible majors.” “No one is going to hire you!” is what I hear all the time. It may be true. I recognize that ministry isn’t something you do for the money, you do it because God is calling you. I just need some counsel and advice. What did you do when you graduated? I pray that all goes well with you, and that God blesses you with the PhD research he has placed in your heart to pursue.

Answer:

Brian,

Thanks for your kind and encouraging words. As I was reading it I thought to myself, “His mission sounds much like mine!”

Like you said, I have a BS in Religion with a specialization in biblical studies. There is certainly a stigma with Bible majors and seminarians that are easy to spot from the outside. I wouldn’t have considered myself fitting into that mold and those who knew me then would have agreed. I’m really glad I got my Religion degree first because, as I say jokingly, I have a firm foundation under my feet before I start thinking lofty philosophical thoughts. I always did philosophy on my own time while completing my BS. Most of my papers always had a philosophical aspect or I focused on a philosophical theology.

If you’re called to ministry then I would highly recommend getting a Religion degree in theology or biblical studies. Honestly, there are other Religion majors like Youth Ministries and  Pastoral Ministries that need what is in biblical studies and theology programs. They cross a bit but that’s where you’ll find the most meat. Also, go to an accredited university. Bible colleges aren’t bad, per se, but their degrees may not be accredited and academically esteemed. So make sure you go to a good university for a Religion degree. This brings obvious issues as to whether good theology will actually be taught or not and that’s up to you. If you can handle it like eating a fish, you eat the good stuff but spit out the bones and supplement the bad stuff with your own work on the side then you should do well.

I would encourage you to be firmly grounded in your faith. Seminary and Religion degrees have been known to cause people to lose their faith. For some it’s because they come across a problem and don’t handle it correctly and their faith collapses on the smallest crux. For some it’s the overwhelming work and treating God’s word as a text-book instead of what it actually is. You’ll probably go through a spiritual drought when doing a Religion program but it’s the firm foundation you need to refer back to to revitalize your love for the Lord. You’ll learn proper hermeneutics and how to exegete the Scriptures. You’ll learn Greek or Hebrew to help master the original language. You’ll learn systematic theology and philosophy. Philosophy is very important and should not be dismissed. A bad theology produces a bad philosophy, but a bad philosophy also produces a bad theology.

If you want to be a professor in the future then the objection, “You’ll make no money” is a bit irrelevant since the degree is just a necessary step to get to the next degree. The combination of degrees you’ll have by the time you’re a professor will never be a detriment.  You’ll need to work while you’re in school but you’re not doing your career while you’re in school. I’ve done three years as a graduate assistant and teach several sections of philosophy and that’s how I work during school. Just make sure you stay disciplined in your studies. These are the years that count academically. Build on your degrees with others that you know you’ll need in order to do the work you want to do. For instance, I did my BS in Religion, biblical studies and my MA in Philosophy. I want to be a professor and I’m going after by PhD in Philosophy next fall in Edinburgh, Scotland.

During your tenure as a student you need to compete against your peers (i.e. classrooms are preferable over online classes). Find a professor that can mentor you and try to get material published to get your résumé going. Don’t forget to have a hobby and a social life to keep you sane. You need to be well-balanced during your university tenure and be healthy all around.

I hope I answered your questions.

Max Andrews


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