Dr. Jerry Johnston Interviews Dr. Jeff Green

 

Dr. Jeff Green is dean of the HBU Graduate School, and serves in multiple leadership capacities at the university. His areas of expertise include ethics, philosophy, metaphysics, logic, and the symbiotic nature of faith and reason.

Visit HBU.edu/Grad.

 

Dr. Jerry Johnston, VP of Innovation and Strategic Marketing for Houston Baptist University, talked with Dr. Jeff Green, dean of the HBU Graduate School, about the university and Christian higher education as a whole.

While many Christian institutions have chosen to focus on undergraduate programs, HBU offers dozens of graduate programs residentially and online. Some of HBU’s exceptional qualities include world-class professors, campus life, and programs that are conducive to small-group learning. Paired with HBU’s academic excellence is its strong stand for Christian values.

“Students get the best of both worlds,” Green says.

More education helps students attain their life goals, Green asserts. “I think the need for more education to be successful in the workplace is a factor. People are looking for an extra level of specification, or even a certification,” he says. In addition to traditional programs, the HBU Graduate School offers certificates and licensures in areas including counseling, education and apologetics. Students may complete graduate-level certificates as part of a graduate degree program or as a stand-alone pursuit.

Reaching potentials is a way in which people can invest in the talents God gives them. “The most important thing is the actual knowledge you get from the classes,” Green says. “You can offer more value to employers, your family, church and community.”

Honoring the gifts that God has given each of us, cultivating talents and building knowledge are the aim of a graduate education, Green says. Some degree programs like the Master of Arts in Apologetics have a clear tie-in to evangelism, but other advanced degrees can be just as missional. They provide opportunities for influence and reach in any field. “I think there is Christian truth in business, nursing and many areas,” Green says. “In every area of inquiry, we can honor God, and engage vocationally from a Christian perspective.”

Dr. Jerry Johnston Interviews Mary Jo Sharp

Known for her expertise in public speaking and writing, Assistant Professor of Apologetics Mary Jo Sharp emphasizes relational connections in apologetic engagement. She has written the influential Bible study,  “Why Do You Believe That?” and is a contributor to several collected works of apologetics including, “A New Kind of Apologist,” and “In Defense of the Bible.” She also regularly writes curriculum with LifeWay Christian Resources.

Visit HBU.edu/MAA and ConfidentChristianity.com.

 

Mary Jo Sharp, HBU assistant professor of Apologetics and author, joined Dr. Jerry Johnston, VP of Innovation and Strategic Marketing for Houston Baptist University, to discuss the vital role of apologetics in the modern Church.

After becoming a Christian during her college years, Sharp says she began to doubt the Christian faith because of the behavior of some who identified as Christ-followers. Her cynicism ultimately led her to seek truth even more, and Sharp earned a degree in apologetics from Biola University. Her study was the impetus for her blog, “Confident Christianity.”

“We live in a time in which people reject biblical authority. They don’t reject it for good reasons – it’s not that they’ve taken time to carefully investigate for themselves. It’s kind of where we are as a culture,” she explained.

While many of the anti-Christian soundbites are not thoughtful arguments, they can leave the faithful at a loss for how to respond.

“Apologetics is not something that has been in our churches,” Sharp says. “We need to teach it in the Church so the first time people are encountering it, it’s in a safe place.”

Through her blog, Sharp seeks to help people know what they believe, and then learn to listen to others, question them, and formulate responses.

Earning a degree in apologetics takes learners further into both the need for the Christian faith and the reasons for its relevance and truth.

“Right now, we need to provide solid, strong answers to some of these soundbites we’re hearing that are just false,” Sharp says. “They’re not coming out of deep investigation into the truth. I can’t just sit in the pew and not look at the world; I have to give a defense.”

Sharp and Johnston each emphasize the foundational nature of teaching Christian principles within the home. Ultimately, apologetics is for every Christian.

Watch or listen to the complete podcast on HBU.edu.

Dr. Jerry Johnston Interviews Philip Renner

Philip Renner is a worship leader who is known for his ministry in the Moscow Good News Church and throughout the former Soviet Union. His father, Rick Renner, is a well-known pastor and evangelist.

Visit PhilipRenner.com.

Philip Renner joined Dr. Jerry Johnston, VP of Innovation and Strategic Marketing for Houston Baptist University, to talk about the impossible and the possible in life and ministry.

“God does the impossible,” Renner says, referencing the work of spreading the Gospel in Russia and beyond. “Everything that has been done through the years – people have said it’s never been done before.”

The Renner family moved to Russia in 1992, and Philip and his parents and two brothers soon learned to love their new home. “God said to build a church in Moscow,” Renner says. “A lot of people would say, ‘It’s just impossible to own your own land and to get the permissions.

But we live by faith and not by sight and speak things that are not as though they are.”

In the years that the family has ministered, they’ve seen conversions and miracles. “It’s powerful what God is doing,” Renner says. “God is alive, moving, active and breaking barriers and limitations.”

Renner challenges people to seek God wholeheartedly. “Jeremiah 29:11 says, ‘My plans for you are good and not for evil.’ No matter what’s happening right now, no matter the evil that is happening around you – God is telling you His plans for you are good – so you have nothing to worry about. Later it says, ‘You have sought me and you have found me.’ If you just seek Jesus, you are going to find Him,” Renner says. “Open the Word, study the Word, cry out to God, and you will find him. Even more, He will find you. You will call and He will hear you. Wherever you are right now in your school, in your neighborhood, at your job, the world around you might be getting darker, but guess what, that just makes your faith brighter and stronger, and you can stand out with your morals, standards, with what you watch, don’t watch – your life can be a light. God’s got a good, good plan for you.”

 

Listen to the complete podcast on HBU.edu.

 

Dr. Jerry Johnston Interviews Dr. John Fea

Dr. John Fea is chair of the History Department at Messiah College in Pennsylvania. His interests range from early American history to modern-day politics. His books include, “Was America Founded as a Christian Nation?”

 

Dr. John Fea visited Houston Baptist University and talked with Dr. Jerry Johnston, VP of Innovation and Strategic Marketing for HBU. The Messiah College professor discussed history and the historical dimensions of our current society, particularly related to the Christian faith foundation of our nation.

Johnston asks, “Was there a spiritual motivation, a freedom cause, that led to the inception of the United States of America?”

Referencing his book, “Was America Founded as a Christian Nation?” Fea says, “Part of the strength of the book is that I don’t settle for ‘yes’ and ‘no’ answers. It’s very easy to manipulate the past. As a historian, I want to lay aside any kind of political agenda and see what the founders believed.”

Due to the Christian heritage of the American founders, they no doubt incorporated those beliefs into the new republic, Fea says. “Certain Founding Fathers believed in religious liberty – they believed that all human beings had dignity and worth,” he says. “They all had a common belief: republics only work with people who are virtuous. The way to virtue was through the Bible and the historic teachings of Christianity.”

When contemporary people look at the past, we should do so with an assumption that we have different contexts for understanding, Fea explains. “One of the things I like to tell my students is that the past is a foreign country; they do things differently there,” he says. “The heart of education in 17th-century New England was the Bible. Ministers would have been involved in bringing biblical literacy; the Founding Fathers came out of this tradition.”

It was the tenets of the Christian faith that made the new country so incredible. “I think America is very much an exceptional nation – the first nation built upon human rights believed to be from God,” Fea says.

Since our nation’s founding, Christian groups have sought to spread the Gospel and get the Bible into as many hands as possible. “The American Bible Society believed the Bible would not only transform individual lives, prepare people for eternity and help them to live lives pleasing to God, but they also believed this book was central to the mission of the United States,” Fea says.

The Bible continues to be taught in some public schools. “I think many people would like to see the Bible as a textbook,” Fea says. “It’s an important book that’s been a major, major influence on the Western world and beyond. It’s something that – it’s hard to learn about the United States of America without understanding the Bible. I can’t teach most of my general education survey classes without bringing up the Bible. It saturates political language – I think those who would argue for the Bible in public schools would say there must be some biblical literacy in order to understand our country’s past. And if history is going to contribute to making good citizens, you must have some biblical literacy.”

When it comes to reaching this generation, Fea says, “Christians are going to have to come up with a new way to engage – they no longer have a Christian consensus. I think Christians face a challenge today – we’re at a turning point when some new ways of thinking have to be developed.”

Listen to the complete podcast on HBU.edu.