For this issue of Biola Magazine, we asked Biola alumni and current students to share the most memorable and important lessons they learned from their 30 required units of Bible and theology classes. Thirty responses made it into our "30 Units, 30 Lessons" feature, but there were many great responses that didn't fit into the magazine, so we've posted them below. If you're a graduate with a lesson you'd like to share, please include it in the comments section!
I was a Bible major and took more classes than the minimum 30 required units and could not get enough even at that! I grew up in the public school system of Long Beach, Calif., so attending Biola was a new and thrilling experience for me. I went to Biola specifically to learn the Word of God and prepare myself for future ministry. Having just become a Christian a few years before in high school, I knew very little about the Bible. For the first time I had the opportunity to learn each day under the powerful and passionate teaching of Dr. Curtis Mitchell for Old Testament Survey and the erudite Dr. Richard McNeely for the Doctrine of God and the Bible. Both of these godly men impacted me as a young Christian and enriched my faith in the Lord and elevated my concept of God. Dr. Mitchell taught me among many things that an underlying principle to God's acts is the truth that He often employs the weak and foolish things of this world to accomplish His purposes (I Cor.1:27). This always gave me hope that maybe He would use me too since I also belong to that category.
– Ed Bryant (’73)
It was probably in 1975 when in “God, Christ and Holy Spirit” Dr. Gordon Kirk quoted Walter Hendrickson in class. It went something like this: “Every problem in life is related to your concept of God. If you have a big God, you have small problems; if your God is small, you have big problems. It’s as simple as that. How big is your God?”
– Charles Kelley (’77)
Curtis Mitchell's Old Testament survey class got us started reading long portions of Scripture in one setting. But the most influential Bible teacher was not a Bible teacher. Cal Hanson taught philosophy. But his use of the Greek New Testament and his ability to apply Scripture to philosophical issues and everyday life inspired me to do the same
– Charlie Tarrell (’74)
Dr. Curtis Mitchell on studying the Bible: “Remember ... major only on the majors, and always minor on the minors." Sage advice for the ages!
– John Gowan (’77)
Any class I took with Dr. Ron Pierce was a treasure trove of learning. He taught me to think critically about the Old Testament that made it come more alive than I had every experienced it before. I'm eternally grateful!
– Hugh McMenamin (’91)
Dr. Erik Thoennes taught Systematic Theology as if LIFE were the Super Bowl. Every class was like walking onto a football field with a winning coach there to pour out all he knew about how to make game-changing decisions that ultimately lead to winning where it counts most. His passion inspired me to take my beliefs more seriously and build a faith with the end in mind.
– Chris Jansen (’01)
In Authentic Manhood, I learned that I should never expect a thank you from my boss. As long as I get paid on time and they provide clean restrooms, that's good enough. I can't tell you how much that helped me in my career as a celebrity assistant.
– Will Youngblood (’01)
My favorite memory was walking Israel with the Bible as our textbook … our professor made the Word of God come alive like never before.
– Jonne' Rasmussen (’02)
While I can think of great things from many of my classes, I do believe the class that has the most lasting memories is Character of God with Dr. Thoennes. I personally have seen how my view of God is instrumental in all my thinking. I often refer back to the attributes we learned and their definitions. Dr. Thoennes shared with us as graduation neared two very important lessons. One was about fully living now — not thinking I will do this when I'm married, have kids, get a new job, etc. The other was a set of concentric circles. In the centermost circle was non-negotiable/essentials, then convictions, then opinions, and finally questions. He asked us to think about our faith, life matters relating to our faith and where we would position certain doctrines in the rings. For example the Trinity, inerrancy of Scripture, and resurrection would be in my centermost circle. Dr. Thoennes extolled us to not marry anyone who did not hold the same essentials and convictions as we did as it would create strife in our marriage. This tool is valuable for me and having the biblical knowledge from all my other classes made this an indispensable tool.
– Kelley (Selvig, ’04) Crummitt
I treasure that Drs. Richard Leyda and Michael Anthony believed in me and my ministry; they gave me the chance of my life in showing me that God gives us grace to cover us in our weaknesses and that He can do great things through us as we depend on Him fully!
– Annette Marie Langdon (’04)
I am very grateful for the Christian history courses that were offered by the Bible department. My favorite professor was Dr. Naidu. He did an excellent job presenting the history of events and doctrine within our Christian heritage. Those courses pushed my faith and understanding to grow deeper in the knowledge of God.
– Kurt Jaros (’10, M.A. ’11)
Foundations of Christian Thought was a great starting point for studying God's Word. It challenged me to know why I believe what I do, and it brought me closer to God. Theology II with Professor Gleason was an amazing time of growth as he encouraged us to dig deeper into the Word and really search for Truth. The passion that Professor Gleason brought was contagious. My love for studying Scripture and testing what was preached to me grew a lot. The Bible classes at BU have had such a major impact on the person that I am now, as well as the way I see God and view the Scriptures.
– Levi Ellis (current student)
One of the things I love most about attending Biola is that its leaders and professors are so devoted to integrating biblical faith into their curriculum. The entire Bible program is something that has offered a wonderful background for my Christian faith. That being said, Art and the Bible (the integrated seminar for my major) is one that particularly stands out to me as being extremely formative for my spiritual well being as well as my maturation as an artist. It was a course taught by two professors: Matt Jenson, with a background in theology, and Jonathan Anderson, from the art department. I loved how the structure encouraged theologically deep conversations about art, which doesn’t happen much any place else. I was challenged to speak and think about how art and the Bible can combine in a world that otherwise rejects the Truth of the Gospel of Jesus. Additionally, I was inspired to make excellent work that resounds with Truth! For someone whose first art class was here at Biola, I know that I am extremely blessed to have had this Bible course to offer encouragement, wisdom and peace about my present situation as a student and my future career.
– Elizabeth Jade Martinez (current student)
One time in my “Biblical Interpretation and Spiritual Formation” class we wrote down how much time we spend on each thing in our lives — with the maximum per week being 168 hours. After calculating how many hours we spend sleeping, eating, going to class, with friends, etc., the professor asked how many hours we wrote for God. Without raising my hand, I said, “168.” He asked me why, and my answer was “I was just making a smart remark, I'm sorry.” But then he talked about how I was right — that all 168 hours should be God’s. This has been something the Lord has really pressed upon my heart the last four years: Everything is worship. … If I can encourage the body in this I would say, strive to make everything that you think, say and do be worship unto God. For the glory that God receives will last for eternity and worship to everything else is worth nothing.
– Lisa Schnittker (current student)