Houston Baptist University offers many quality programs but is perhaps most well-known for its emphasis on Christian studies. Through its School of Christian Thought and Houston Theological Seminary, HBU has made a name for itself in Houston and beyond.
Current Interim Dean of the School of Christian Thought, Dr. Phil Tallon, has been Chair of the Department of Apologetics for the last 7 years. He sees Apologetics as a great strength within the School of Christian Thought, one that is becoming more important as time goes on. He explained, “Apologetics is the defense of Christian faith. More and more, Christianity is on trial and needs a good lawyer. The Bible commands us to be ready to defend the reasons for our faith. In this program, we train people to have a deeper understanding of Biblical truths so they can respond to questions and objections.”
Tallon came to this program with an impressive background, including a PhD from the Institute for Theology, Imagination and the Arts at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. His dissertation was entitled The Poetics of Evil and focused on how the arts help us to see evil from different perspectives. Recently, he wrote an article on how beauty shows us that God exists. He is also the author of the book The Absolute Basics of the Christian Faith. “It’s my attempt,” he said, “to help people understand the big ideas of theology and why they matter. Theology is for everyone. Knowledge of theology allows us to enjoy talking about God and to do so with confidence.”
Tallon’s focus is a unique one. “My interests are an intersection between theology and culture. How should our understanding of God shape how we live our daily lives? Our cultural world (culture is anything of human making – art, film, novels, social media, technology, music, architecture, gardening) shapes our understanding of who God is and we need to be aware that our human understanding mediates our understanding of God, for better or for worse.”
This kind of in-depth awareness is integral to The School of Christian thought, which offers a robust biblical studies focus. The professors have national and international reputations with multiple publications among them and widely recognized expertise. The students who get to study with these experts delve into the New Testament, read it in its original language, and learn to preach from it effectively. Faculty powerhouses include Craig Evans, a major Bible scholar; William Lane Craig, American analytic philosopher and Christian theologian, apologist, and author; Nancy Pearcey, a prolific author who answers questions on huge life issues from the Christian perspective; and Michael Ward, the leading C.S. Lewis expert and author of the award-winning and co-editor of .
In addition to the challenging coursework already being offered, an exciting new program is slated for Fall, 2022 – the Doctor of Ministry degree. HBU students who work in the ministry will be able to pursue this 3-year program to get fresh inspiration and a deeper understanding of both the New Testament and Cultural Apologetics. And anyone who wants to dip their toe in the grad school water may attend survey courses without becoming tuition-paying students. Surveyors may take a 3 credit class lasting one semester (16 weeks) to go deeper than Sunday School or sermons and determine whether graduate studies in the School of Christian Thought could be right for them. Courses are even offered remotely to accommodate adult learners, and hybrid models that combine campus time with online learning are also available.
A key component to the HBU program is connecting big truths to applications in the contemporary context. “We teach classes that touch on current issues (abortion, gender, and sexuality) and we try to be attentive to the needs of the world,” said Tallon. “Most of our focus is in understanding the relevance of the Bible. If you think about it, contemporary issues will continue to change. The questions we are asking now will be different 20 years from now. So we try to build a deep understanding of Biblical principles that can apply to all that we cannot foresee.
“Our task as a seminary is investing in the only institution I’m confident will exist in 1,000 years: the church.”