At Lancaster Bible College, we pride ourselves on biblical integration at every level of our institution. A number of our professors have recently earned masters or doctoral degrees. So we asked them: how has your continued education equipped you to prepare students for their future and how do you integrate the Bible into your classroom? These are their answers.
Dr. Ling Dinse: The social work profession strives to use the most effective and current interventions. My doctoral education has sharpened my research skills and increased my competence as an evidence-based practitioner. The expanded knowledge of current research and practice enriched my role as an educator, preparing the next generation of social workers striving for excellence. Many of the social work practice theories have strong humanistic roots. It is vital to utilize biblical truth to examine the validity of these practice theories. I often challenge the students to critically evaluate social work theories and assess their compatibility with God’s principles.
Keli Gentzler: My MBA has shown me how to demonstrate to the students how the student learning objectives connect for all 14 courses in all of our business majors. This enables cross-over between classes – it’s great when a student says, “Oh yeah, we are talking about this in another class!” The fact that they are making the connection is even better for their retention and learning. Integrating the Bible comes most easily to me when I am also applying the concepts to my daily life. Inspiration for biblical integration will often come from my daily Bible reading, a chapel speaker, or a relevant news story, believe it or not. Tying biblical concepts into relevant and current discussions is key for our students.
Dr. Justin Harbin: I undertook a doctorate for the sole reason of best stewarding the gifts God has given me so that I can invest in the teaching of others. The process grew my own scholarly work and equipped me to invest in the teaching careers of students and faculty in ways that I could never have accomplished on my own. As far as integrating the Bible – I draw heavily upon the work of Abraham Kuyper, who encourages us to consider that there is not “one square inch” of creation over which Christ is not Lord. Therefore, anything I teach, regardless of my academic discipline, can and ought to be taught in a distinctively Christian manner that displays the Lordship of Christ. As I invest in future educators and fellow faculty members, my goal is to teach in ways reflective of God’s redemptive and restorative purposes in the world.
Dr. Debra Johnson-Cortesi: I believe that a teacher should be a life-long learner. Because of this deeply held belief, I have recently obtained a Ph.D. in Leadership. I feel that when a teacher continues to place themselves in the role of the learner, it allows them to understand the student experience more clearly. From this understanding, the teacher is then able to create learning environments that will best meet the needs of their students. Additionally, as the teacher learns new ideas and makes new connections within their own learning, they can better aid students to do the same.
As a Christian, I believe that everything I do should be firmly rooted in the Word of God. As a Christian teacher, this means that all of my instruction should be biblically sound and additionally, students should be asked regularly to think biblically about all that we are learning. The specific activities that are utilized within my courses vary depending on the overall content, but the goal is to constantly push the students back into the Word to learn and discern the truth.
Dr. Matthew Lynskey (’04): My doctoral work took me into the fascinating world of early North African Christianity. Wrestling with the unique theological, ecclesiological, missiological and hermeneutical dynamics of the day, I was challenged to reflect how ancient practices of early Christianity could resource the contemporary church. Nourished by the fruit of this research, I have been inspired to envision how theological education, leadership training and biblical exegesis are fundamentally church-based endeavors that blossom in the spiritually fertile context of a missional community. That being the case, by inviting a community of students to marinate in the world of the biblical text with sustained reflection that is theologically robust and practically oriented, we can allow the Bible to set the agenda for our course of study, cultivate the imagination of reflective practitioners, develop students with a distinctively Christian worldview, and set the church’s mission in the world as the appropriate context for ministry training.
Dr. Stacey Martin: My continued education has equipped me to prepare students for their future through expanded knowledge of the education field, research, and writing. This has prepared me to more effectively teach future teachers through knowledge of best practices and current trends in the field. In “Teaching to Change Lives,” Dr. Howard Hendricks tells us that in order to be effective teachers, we too must continue to learn. He says, “By becoming a student again, I as a teacher will look at the education process through a radically new – and uniquely personal – set of eyes.” Learning won’t stop now that my degree has been conferred. In fact, it is only the beginning.
I integrate the Bible into my classroom, both implicitly and explicitly. Biblical principles guide all of my interactions with students and they provide the foundation of everything I teach them as future teachers. The Bible informs who we are, how we interact with each other, and, most importantly, who God is and what He means to us.
Dr. Kurt Miller: My doctoral journey has motivated me to set high standards for the scholarly work of social workers, encouraging excellence in writing. As a result, I’ve developed a course entitled Professional Writing for Social Workers, a required elective for all social work students. People judge us by our writing, therefore as representatives of Christ in the professional and academic world, we must strive for excellence. The Bible sets standards for being set apart in a world that is seeking avenues of hope. Being an excellent student, social worker and lifelong learner models the character of Christ to others.
Dr. Wade Mullen (’14, ‘18): My continued education has helped me appreciate the value of critical thinking and the need for academic research that can help us make better sense of problems in need of answers. I view the learning process as training in wisdom and the professor-student interaction as a partnership in becoming more like Christ as we journey together through the subject matter. To that end, the Bible is as a foundational text in the classes I teach. It points us to Jesus, who is the “power of God and the wisdom of God” (1 Corinthians 1:24).
Ryan Shenk (‘97): I found the experience of continuing my education while teaching to be humbling and invigorating. Gaining the perspective of a student and finding myself on the user side of assignments and online platforms has been invaluable for creating more relevant and appropriate coursework. Studying a discipline such as anthropology has deepened my inquisitive approach to people and their stories, while also facilitating the ability to articulate the biblical narrative as one that both defines and parallels my own and that of my students. Additionally, the disciplined writing of continuing education has sharpened my own communication skills, which improves my own presentation while also helping me develop the same in others.
Dr. Tony Shetter (‘98): Sadly, biblical illiteracy is increasing, not only among those outside the Christian community but also among those inside the church. Furthermore, the value ascribed to the Old Testament is in decline, even among prominent evangelical leaders. Our mission at LBC addresses this trend by educating Christian students to think and live a biblical worldview and to proclaim Christ by serving Him in the Church and society. Earning my Ph.D. in Old Testament Studies at Dallas Theological Seminary has equipped me with the knowledge and skills necessary to train our students in how to study God’s Word. While life transformation is impossible apart from the Spirit, Christians are responsible to study God’s Word well (2 Timothy 2:15).
Dr. Daniel Spanjer: Continuing education has connected me with the scholarship in my field. My education has allowed me to frame my teaching inside the scholarship of my discipline. It has kept my mind sharp and pointed me to the research/reading that is most relevant to my subject. I do not integrate the Bible into my classroom; I teach my material out of a position of faith in Christ and dedication to His Kingship. Rather than look for ways to present my material in a way that does not offend my faith in Christ, I allow the Truth of Scripture to shape the way that I gather, synthesize and present information.