Unique Bachelor’s Degrees

Many young fundamentalists head off to an approved fundamentalist college to toil and study for four years only to emerge with a degree that puts them on promising career paths such as leading a church choir or supervising a nursery three times a week.

At Pensacola Christian College You can check out the wonderful world of Music Ministries in which you to can learn to look like this when you sing. “Lift those eyebrows, people! Jesus likes them up almost into your hairline!” A similar program is offered at West Coast Baptist College but you’ll want to note that there are separate degrees for men and women. Men take Practical Theology with their music degree while women take “Christian Womanhood.” (If the women want to learn about theology it’s best to let the sweet young things wait until they are married so they can ask their husbands about it.)

If you are a woman who aspires to get married and have babies, there are programs for that too! Unlike women of years gone by who did all this without needing to take college classes, you can head off to Hyles Anderson and major in Marriage and Motherhood. Hopefully you can snag a husband too while you’re at it or that’s a whole lot of money and time wasted.

If the world of word processing and church secretarial ministry is your dream, Maybe The Crown College’s Bachelor of Biblical Studies in Business Applications will float your boat. Hopefully that Bible-based approach to using Microsoft Access is worth every shekel.

And of course, every fundamentalist college worth its salt has at least a few programs in things like Youth Ministry, Camp Ministry, Nursing Home Every Other Thursday Ministry  and so on. These specialized degrees will ensure that these promising young fundamentalist leaders of tomorrow will quickly learn to suffer for Jesus making sub-minimum wage at the ministry of their choice. Alternatively, if they apostatize and leave the ministry, there’s always an option for food service and sales positions.

If you spent four years (or six or eight) getting a degree that you’re now embarrassed to put on your secular resume, you may have been a fundamentalist.

110 thoughts on “Unique Bachelor’s Degrees”

  1. West Coast with their Christian Womanhood course–for women, of course–wow! guess I flunk out here. Went to a secular college because I wasn’t going to the mission field–direct quote from my mother! Who, fyi, was told that, as a young newly saved teen, she wasn’t really saved until she went to BJU. That in a day of depression and she had to go to work (after being kicked out of her home) at 14 years old. Mom went to be with the Lord a year ago, she was 88. She was also the one that told me that I attend a cult church and to get out….. The womanhood class reminds me that at BCM (Baptist College of Ministries–an uber BJU break-off run by the Van Geldrens)–the gals have to take Greek. Really? So that they can “speak Greek” with their ministry/pastor hubby??
    Off the topic, but I have been exposed just recently to the EVS version. Please tell me more before I purchase one…..

  2. The only thing more embarassing than putting it on a resume is flunking out of a IFB college. I flunked out; but then again, who cares, I don’t have to put it on a resume. Most of the classes were worthless. My grammar sssks.

  3. Being rebellious, I chose to go to a secular university for an engineering degree. With that said, though my parents didn’t really push me too hard to check out Christian colleges, I did get some outside pressure to consider the “options.” Needless to say, no IFB colleges had any good options whatsoever. Even outside of that sphere, I was hard pressed to find any Christian colleges with good, accredited engineering programs. I guess this shouldn’t be a surprise, given what we know about fundamentalism and their view of appropriate vocational choices.

  4. @Maria Berg

    Assuming that you refer to the English Standard Version… Well, I have one; it’s what my church uses in public worship, though my Sunday School class uses a study that uses the NKJV, and others use whatever they prefer. I am somewhat cautious, however, given the rabid fanboyism for the ESV from certain almost-fundamentalist corners of non-IFB Baptist land and the “young, restless, and reformed” types. I read a TNIV for balance. 🙂

  5. @ Maria,
    Since, Josh jumped in, I’ll cast in my vote…assuming that you are referring to the ESV.
    It’s a very good, literal translation. Depending on who you talk too, it is more literal than the KJV but less so than the NASB. When I do my translation work for my messages, the ESV closely matches my translation.The ESV is translated into modern English. Most of the time, The ESV “feels” like an extremely readable KJV. I consider it the best Bible for people who are trying to move away from the KJV.

    The translation committee of the ESV had some strong Reformed leanings and the prophetic passages are sometimes translated more figuratively than literally.

    There is no such thing as a perfect translation (sorry, Mr. Ruckman). The NASB is a little too wooden, the NIV is a little too dynamic, the KJV is a little too antiquated, and the ESV is a little too slanted. But the ESV is a very good literal translation that balances the majesty of the KJV with the readability of many of the modern translations.

  6. “If you spent four years (or six or eight) getting a degree that you’re now embarrassed to put on your secular resume, you may have been a fundamentalist.”

    So I have officially been a fundamentalist. Not sure whether to put a 🙂 or a :(.

  7. The NASB is a little too wooden, the NIV is a little too dynamic, the KJV is a little too antiquated, and the ESV is a little too slanted.

    Best summary I’ve read of the issue.

    And after reading this post I’m reminded of how thankful I am to have earned an old-fashioned History BA.

  8. I went to a Bible college, got a degree in Church Ministries (what was I thinking? at least education would’ve been accredited!).

    One of my brothers never went to college.

    One got kicked out twice and never went back.

    Guess who makes the least amount of money?

  9. I had the best of two worlds – or the worst. I went to a Bible college that was accredited by Middle States – diploma good anywhere. Anywhere someone with a degree in Bible was needed. Being a woman, there was nothing in fundyland where I could get a job.

  10. My favorite, hands down, is the B.A.P.C.T. degree from BJU – a Bachelor of Arts in Practical Christian Training. As far as I know, it’s one of the few that don’t have separate gender tracks. Flora Jean has that degree, so, maybe you’ll play the piano as good as she does if you get one, too.

    1. Not meaning to offend anyone who received that degree, but it is viewed by many at BJU as the Bible major for flunkies. I actually have a couple friends who got that degree, and they didn’t start out in that “major”.

  11. btw, at T4G this year, Matt Chandler mentioned that he only has a degree in Bible. He related that to his story, and how, if he left the ministry he’d have nowhere to go because “no fortune 500 companies are looking for people with a bachelor’s in Bible” or something like that ( you can check out the audio at t4g.org). I don’t think Chandler went to a fundy school, but when he said that, it resonated with me for sure.

  12. I spent 4½ years working on a BS on Education from a non-accredited IFB university in the Caribbean. Although the standard was high and most of the classes were good, the diploma I hold is as good as a diploma mill. This is why I decided to join one of our most famous (and accredited) fundamental universities in the US- that way, I can “validate” all my years of study by having a (tada!!) Masters’ in Education!

    I think it worked for good.. I like teaching too much, and I fear I may have started to work and decide not to pursue an advanced degree, thus relying on my D.M.E (Diploma-Mill-Equivalent)! Ouch!

  13. A degree from a Bible College says that the degree holder has been indoctrinated, not educated. That’s why they are next to worthless. Separate degree tracks for women, and useless degrees in “Marriage and Motherhood” from HAC only add to the impression. Really, I feel sorry for the young HAC girls. What if they don’t snag a husband? What if the husband dies or leaves them with three little kids and a degree in “Marriage”? What if the husband’s preacher boy career leaves them in abject poverty? Sigh.

    Men as well as women need to learn to be self-sufficient. A college degree should at least give them that.

    Is there a degree in Bus Ministry? Flannelgraphs?

  14. Regarding the college discussion, thank God I went to a secular college. It gave me new perspective on that group of people fundies collectively call the “lost.”

    @Maria- Here’s a little history behind the ESV:

    “The English Standard Version (ESV), announced in February by Crossway Books, had its roots in discussions that took place before the May 1997 meeting called by James Dobson at Focus on the Family headquarters to resolve the inclusive NIV issue.”

    From what I’ve read, there’s more than one instance of conservative bias in the translation. Also, just the fact that ESV was the brainchild of James Dobson, makes me question its accuracy, because Dobson has been known to twist the facts on occasion to support his positions. (I, obviously, realize that Dobson didn’t do the translating, but I’m sure the actual translators were like-minded.)

  15. Another questions for you Bible experts–is the RSV the same thing as the ESV? I have one. It does contain the apochrypha, and I think it’s the Oxford version published by Harper Collins. I can’t find it right now, but I’m just curious. If they are not the same, how do they differ?

  16. The RSV is not the same as the ESV, although I believe it comes from the same roots in the American Standard Version.

    Personally, I don’t like the ESV. I find it wooden and believe it has a Reformed bias. I do like the NSRV-Catholic Edition. I also like the NKJV because I’m a bit of a traditionalist.

    I was on the HAC website just the other day and was appalled at the extreme fundamentalist mindset. The indoctrination of those young minds and the close-mindedness of anything that contradicts their mindset is simply preparing young men and women for failure and disappointment.

  17. @Morgan–Thank you for the info. Mine must be the Catholic version you mention. I’m not Catholic, but I was curious about the Apocrypha at the time I bought it. I like the NKJV too, because once you get used to that language, it really is beautiful. Also, for all of us who grew up memorizing from the KJV, it’s just so familiar.

    The extreme fundy mindset is indeed disturbing. I keep hoping that fewer and fewer people are being drawn into it or staying with it. It’s all predicated on fear, and it’s just completely weird that growing up is actually discouraged!

  18. It is ironic that it was Christians who developed the university, Christians who brought it to America, and Christians who are leading its debasement.

    Accreditation is a recent event. Harvard was not accredited until the 1920’s. It will always be accredited. No accreditation committee will ever have the courage to revoke Harvard’s accreditation. This betrays the accreditation system.

    MIT has just put its entire undergraduate curriculum on-line free (mit.edu.ocw) Yale is doing the same thing. The world’s premier science and technology university and one of the world’s premier liberal arts universities are now on-line free. What else do you need? This is the future. Brick and mortar schools, stand by to die. Your death certificate is being written in digital ink. They will e-mail it to you.

    Anyone considering going to any college, secular, sacred, or syncretic, should give serious thought to why they are going. Is there another way to get the knowledge you want? How will you pay for this? If a college education is the key to success, why are not all the professors successful? Will you study or party? Did you enjoy your K-12 experience? Can you finish this sentence: Education is …? Why does no one tell prospective students that most college students, college professors, and colleges themselves are mediocre? Do the more expensive schools give a better education relative to the cost? Have you asked any of these questions? What does it mean if you haven’t?

  19. The PCT major at BJU was well-known to be a bridge major between the SAS and the BA in Bible. It was . . . well, easier to do.

    I’ve always chuckled at the whole “Bible major” nomenclature. It’s “religion” everywhere else.

  20. I am very happy to report that the IFB church in my community of over 40,000 has a weekly attendance in the range of… ta da! 30 souls.

    I have listened to the sermons of this pastor, and it is truly the ignornant and unlearned leading the gullible.

  21. I dunno. A BA in Youth Ministries and a M.Mus. in Church Music and I’m at the point now of picking one of three job offers in the IT field. I joke that fixing technology pays the bills but music is what I love doing.

    That said, an MBA is in my future I think…

  22. You developed a real-world skill set that is marketable. Good on you.

    A lot of preacher boy/music leader types aren’t nearly that industrious.

  23. I personally find it morally wrong and socially irresponsible for any school calling itself “Christian,” “College,” or “University” to offer any degree that does not enable the graduate to get a job that would enable him/her to make a respectable living and be able to provide for themselves and their families. Ministry majors should be restructured as a double major with something like accounting, business, or (actual) education. After all, didn’t Paul even have a trade with which to support himself? Peter? So what makes today’s fundy school grads any better?

  24. Well, my incredibly useless Bible college degree (which is even more useless now that I’m no longer IFB) *was* at least able to get me into a fully accredited state school where I was able to get my Master’s. Of course, I got my MA in an equally useful field, so I’m still stuck with a crappy dead-end job.*bangs head on desk* And don’t even get me started on the whole separate degree tracks for men and women! I’m still not sure why I made it through four years of that crap, especially as I never did agree with all that gender nonsense.

  25. @ Lou

    I did the reverse. I got my B.Sci. from an accredited state college in my home state (B.Sci. in Communications/Media, with a specialty in Graphic Design) and my M.Ed. (English) at an unaccredited Christian university. Neither of them are of much help now; the B.Sci. because I got it just before the personal computer revolution started, and the M.Ed. because I can only teach in Christian schools. I would have to go back to school to upgrade my skills for the B.Sci.; I’ve been a SAHM for the past 19 years.

    The M.Ed. wasn’t a complete waste; I did get my Mrs. along the way…

  26. Remember fundamentalist preacher’s wife Mary Winkler who killed her preacher husband?

    They met in Bible College, where one can only speculate on the indoctrination that was foisted upon the two of them. They didn’t go to HAC, but it brags in its literature that it produces good, submissive wives.

    The Winkler case is an extreme case, but one can understand how after years of being the “good” wife with an abusive husband and small children, she could snap.

    Even the jury was lenient on her, poor woman.

  27. Morgan – I have a friend who now works for the Memphis law firm that basically got her off. They used everything about her Fundyland upbringing in her defense. EVERYTHING! He was controlling – check. She was gullible – check. They had severe money issues – check. She was raised not to question authority – check. You get the idea. They also made certain the jury had moderate Christians on it – no pentecostals or ifbers. It worked. They let her off with time served.

  28. 2 degrees and absolutely nothing to show for it. I am extremely successful in the IT field, but in spite of my degrees not because of them. The biggest problem comes down to accreditation. Even legitimate degrees become useless because of the lack of proper accreditation. Fortunately for me I’ve been able to take some classes at fine institutions and will be starting a new degree at NYU in the fall. At that time I hope to wipe the crap off my face from getting degrees at BJU.

    This is an issue I care deeply about. Education is a great and wonderful thing, but these institutions flat out lie about the accreditation issue. When I grew up BJU told me that not having accreditation never stopped anyone. When they got national accreditation their website says that, “Accreditation under TRACS will enable graduates to realize the benefits of accreditation without compromise to the University’s Bible-based philosophy and practices.” except that isn’t true at all and they know it.

    My children will be proud recipients of secular post-secondary education.

  29. Having worked in HR, I can assure you that if you got a fundie school degree, you don’t even need to list it on your resume. Your grammar will tell me all I need to know. That, and the fact that you list on your resume your marital status and the names and ages of your children.

  30. @Randy
    “MIT has just put its entire undergraduate curriculum on-line free (mit.edu.ocw) Yale is doing the same thing. The world’s premier science and technology university and one of the world’s premier liberal arts universities are now on-line free. What else do you need?”

    Well what they are doing is not offering their education. They are offering the class content. You can view the syllabus and other content, but you do not get access to the professor, you don’t get actual grades and you don’t always get video lectures. You can gain the knowledge, but what you don’t get is the credit. That actually matters for *a lot* of things. So why does MIT among others do this? Well part of it is the spread of knowledge, which is the purpose of education, but the other part is that this drives more interested in those colleges. If I can view the course syllabus I gain a better understanding of how MIT works. For instance I know a good bit about how MIT trains their undergrads in computer science. But if I take all of those classes the best I could do is have one line mentioning it on my resume. Or perhaps I could claim proficiency in the things that were covered, but what I wouldn’t have is a degree or credit from MIT. All of my jobs since college have required at least a BS degree. Fortunately I have one. If I had skipped college and taken the OCW classes I wouldn’t have a job right now. A good part of why I got into NYU was because of the credits I’ve earned from BU since BJU. Sure I could have learned the same stuff from OCW saving some money and working on my own time, but it wouldn’t have bought me the credits/expertise needed to get into NYU.

    So I wouldn’t discredit brick and mortar schools just yet. There is a huge place for them, but I agree in the general job market knowledge and experience is of greater value than classes and degrees. I also do see a move from strictly classroom experience to a more hybrid or fluid educational experience in the near future. I see more and more schools offerring online degrees and classes and I see a general trend in education toward a less traditional model of education. Traditional schools (yes even Harvard or MIT) who fail to adapt and innovate could easily find themselves left out of the new wave of education.

  31. I think Mark is right.. the personal interaction with the students and teachers is a vital part of an education. Covenant Seminary is an example of a school on iTunesU that posts lectures and syllabii on line, yet if you want that knowledge to “count” then you need to go there and actually take the class. It is great for gaining personal knowledge, but you do miss that give and take between prof and students.

    I am teaching myself C# programming, and I would love to be able to ask a professor basic questions that are not covered in the book.

    @Dan – I am glad they got her off with time served. 🙂

    I don’t condone murder, and what she did was wrong, but I can see how she just snapped one day. You can only take so much.

  32. I can say thank God above that I just barely saved myself from going down this path. ALMOST did last fall. The fresh-out-of-high-school syndrome of wanting to go to college right off the bat almost landed me straight in fundyland Bible college. Thankfully my super strong urges against going there kicked in right in time and saved me a pocket full of cash, indoctrination, and a possibly useless degree.
    Hello local community college! …

  33. @mfdc5: Susan Campbell, the author of Dating Jesus, grew up church of Christ (not sure if it’s the exact same denomination as Mary Winkler) and I swear she could have been writing about *my* IFB childhood in that book. So yes, at least some of them are pretty fundy.

  34. @ Josh re: engineering
    idk; my brother (who’s about as engineer as they come) and his buddies at LeTourneau University might beg to differ…
    But then again, LeTourneau is Christian, but far from fundamentalist. They’re interdenominational, for one thing (they even admit Catholics 😯 ); and they allow such debaucheries as Casting Crowns, women wearing pants, mixed bathing, movies, and even dating interracially/at all.
    I considered it though; it does have a faith environment that’s as strong as what I’ve seen from the fundamentalists I know, just more educated. The main reason I didn’t go was I didn’t get the scholarship I would have needed to pay for it (and oh yeah, the Lord’s leading).

  35. Oh Lord, I remember hearing tales from my then-girlfriend, about Christian Womanhood at West Coast Baptist College.

    They do learn “Theology” in Christian Womanhood – the Theology of not wearing pants, Victorian-era prudishness, How to endure boorish romantic advances from your husband (the mannagawd) for the sake of his ministry (because he has needs) [lol], and How to clean your house (just to name a few).

    Practical Theology is no where as interesting as it sounds. Not much is practical, and even less is theological.

    To sum up this class in one sentence. STAY AND FIGHT for the “Bus Ministry-KJV Only-Sunday School-Three to Thrive-Old Paths-Rip Face-Sinking Fundy Ship.

    I never did fit in there… =)

  36. @ExFundie: lol yeah I know exactly what you’re talking about…Chappell’s practical theology was basically a gripe session for whatever non-fundy (i.e. Driscoll, Stanley, Warren, etc.) ticked him off that week. A few times he didn’t even grace us with his presence; instead we had the privilege of watching pre-recorded videos from last year’s Spiritual Leadership Conference…I had to “go to work early” those days.

    Did your ex ever tell you about Rita Weaver’s spin on Song of Solomon? Its a hoot…

  37. This is too funny . . . no, it’s sad. I just looked at the Marriage and Motherhood major. I can’t believe what they give college credit for – baking, scheduling, canning and freezing. Unbelieveable. I’m embarrassed to have BJU on my resume but not nearly as embarrassed as I would be if I had a Marriage and Motherhood major on it.

  38. While I was at West Coast I could not attend classes one semester because of finances but still lived in Lancaster working two jobs. While I was out of school one of the staff members called me into his office and yelled at me for not caring about my school bill and accusing me of some terrible things. I denied his accusations but he told me I was lying and banned me from soulwinning and church activities. He later went to my friends and told them to stay away from me because I was not right with God. A year later when I was back in school I confronted him about how he treated me and what he said to my friends. He yelled at me again calling me a sissy, a wimp and told me to “get that chip of your shoulder and your thumb out of your mouth!” During my senior year we were told over and over again that “The need is great! We have churches calling all the time looking for people. Our placement office can get you a place in the ministry” but my calls and e-mails were never returned. I even attended interview days twice after I graduated but West Coast would not accept my resume. (They made copies of all resumes and gave them to pastors looking for people, but not mine) So I went back to my home church, got a job during the week and I now preach to the pre teens every Sunday. In other words, I just picked up where I left off before I went to Lancaster.

    I love my church and the people there. I feel more loved and accepted there then I ever did in Lancaster. If this is what God has for me then I am ok with it. But my question is this: If West Coast was not willing to help me get placed in the ministry and if all I did was pick up at my home church where I left off before I went to West Coast what was the use in me going to Lancaster and spending thousands of dollars on my school bill in the first place?

    I don’t think anyone here would say that West Coast is all bad. There are many good things and good people there. But it is not nearly as good as people think. The best way to get ahead there is to be the child of a pastor, missionary, staff member at the church or college, kiss up to the right people or have a parent who sends lots of money to the college. I have seen too many people get cast aside and made an example of unfairly.

    I think the whole concept of Bible college needs to be rethought. I do not think our IFB colleges are preparing students for the realities of life and the ministry.

    Most colleges seem to say “You don’t have any money saved up? No problem! God will provide!” Yes God does provide. I have seen Him do it. But He has also provided a system to work within. He has provided principals on how to manage our money and save for major expenses like a school bill. Maybe our IFB colleges need to be more upfront about how exspensive college can be.

    Not everyone who leaves college is out of the will of God. Maybe our Bible colleges need to be more selective about who they accept. Maybe they need to make sure that those who go to Bible college truly want to live a life of ministry. And then the college should drill into them sound doctrine and the mindset that just because they are preachers they are not better than the “common man”.

    Maybe our colleges should be less concerned with training “preacher boys” and more concerned with training ministers.

    I don’t know what all the answers are. But maybe fourms like this can get people to start asking the right questions.

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