The Religion & Philosophy Department offers a major or minor in Christian ministry; a minor in philosophy; and the possibility of completing a contract major.
Mission of the Religion Program
The Religion Program strives to support students in become astute interpreters of sacred texts; bearers of historical, institutional, and personal religious convictions for an increasingly pluralistic world; partners in conversations that engage faiths and beliefs that are not one’s own; servants sensitive to the needs of others; and academics prepared for future graduate study in the field of religion.
Bethany provides a solid and diverse classroom foundation for Christian ministry through courses in: the Bible, theology, church history, world religions, psychology, social work, education, music and philosophy. In addition, students have many opportunities for hands-on learning through Experience Based Education, campus ministry organizations and specialized ministry courses.
Each student chooses an area of academic concentration: youth and family ministry, outdoor ministry, or pre-seminary.
A Christian ministry minor (a less extensive program of study) is also offered. This allows students interested in Christian ministry to combine that interest with preparation for another career. For example, students interested in Christian education are encouraged to combine an education major with the Christian ministry minor, and those interested in social justice and service are encouraged to combine a social work major with the Christian ministry minor. Students interested in sacred music can pursue the sacred music major.
Philosophy is, literally, the “love of wisdom.” Philosophy courses at Bethany College encourage this love, develop intellectual tools vital to the search for wisdom, and study the best human efforts (past and present) at attaining wisdom. We believe everyone should be a philosopher, a lover of wisdom.
Philosophy deals with basic questions that impact all academic disciplines: what can be known and how it can be known, what it is to be human (human nature and the purpose of human existence), how humans ought to act (right and wrong), what is real and what is good and evil (the nature and purpose of the universe), what can be known about the existence of God and of God’s nature. Philosophy courses at Bethany College examine these (and many related) issues from a broad perspective that includes contrasting viewpoints within western culture as well as insights from other cultures. The careful examination of these issues strengthens any major course of study, providing the foundation and breadth needed to use that knowledge in a wise manner.
Philosophy requires careful deliberation. It is sometimes described as thought that has been thought out. The intellectual skills vital to the search for wisdom include critical thinking (the ability to examine arguments and claims) and introspection (the ability to examine one’s own opinions and way of life). The philosophy courses at Bethany College, both directly and indirectly, develop and encourage these abilities. Of course, these skills are not just vital to the search for wisdom, but to success in any profession and endeavor.
Oftentimes philosophy professors are stereotyped as skeptical individuals who, because they question everything, don’t believe in much of anything. This is not the case at Bethany. Philosophy is taught within the scope of the academic mission of the College, which includes the fostering of Christian faith. Courses are taught with the ideal of integrating faith and learning, but with the recognition that thinking about one’s beliefs is crucial to both faith and learning. Thus, philosophy courses at Bethany College are very beneficial to students that are serious about their faith.
Professor Tyler Atkinson received his Ph.D. (with distinction) from the University of Aberdeen and his Master’s of Divinity from the Divinity School, Duke University. His interests are in the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament, historical theology, theological ethics, Martin Luther, J.G. Hamann, theology and race, and sustainability. He has written a book titled, “Singing at the Winepress: Ecclesiastes and the Ethics of Work” published by London: Bloomsbury, 2015 and written articles for the Scottish Journal of Theology (forthcoming), and Studies in Christian Ethics (November, 2013). He is married to his high school sweetheart, Rachel Ann, and has a son. He enjoys playing and listening to music, trail running, and travel.
John Mullen, Ph.D., is a retired U.S. Naval Reserve Commander, who earned his doctorate in philosophy from the University of Notre Dame and specializes in epistemology and philosophies of religion and science. He has previously taught at St. Gregory’s University, Oklahoma School of Science and Mathematics, Oklahoma Baptist University, and Valparaiso University. Mullen began at Bethany in 2012.