By Tommy Smith, Johnson University President

Every academic program, co-curricular activity, and even physical space on campus must find its foundation, content, and goal in this mission. Any project, therefore, begins with the question, “How does this fulfill the mission of Johnson University?” It is thus with a new science building on campus.

The essential task of extending the kingdom (reign, rule) of God among all nations begins with effectively communicating the good news of redemption, reconciliation, and recreation in the person and work of Jesus Christ. This is the “power of God for salvation to everyone who believes” (Romans 1:16) and the hope of the world. The work of Johnson University, therefore, is to equip students to accomplish faithfully this Great Commission.

From an academic, curricular perspective, we do this by employing a three-fold approach centering on God’s Word, God’s world, and God’s work.  All undergraduate students complete a major (30+ credits) in Bible and theology, a substantive and systematic study of the Scriptures that grounds students in a biblical worldview. The Bible major is surrounded by an extensive course of study in the arts and sciences. Students complete courses in the humanities, natural sciences, social sciences, the arts, mathematics, and communication not only to enable them to understand God’s Word but also to engage God’s world. Without an understanding of the historical, political, economic, social, scientific, and philosophical elements of human society, students cannot effectively communicate the Gospel to their cultural contexts. Professional studies (the third component) are designed to equip students in Christian ministries or other strategic vocations, placing them in areas deemed critical for communicating the Gospel. This area of the curriculum—God’s work—educates students for meaningful work, enabling them to earn a living while pursuing their passion for Christian service.

The study of the sciences at Johnson finds a place at the table in all three areas of the curriculum. The Great Commission mandate requires not only a solid foundation in the Scriptures but also an understanding of human communities and the natural world:

• A scientific perspective pervades contemporary culture and effective servants of Christ must be conversant with that perspective.

• The Johnson graduate must understand scientific approaches and concepts in order to evaluate claims made by science, comprehend complex social and philosophical issues, and communicate meaningfully with others, especially those in need of the Gospel.

• There are many opportunities for strategic vocations that emerge from the sciences.

• Science is the study of God’s great handiwork, and is a pathway not only to knowledge but also to worship and praise of the Creator.

A healthy perspective on the value of science is a key component of a Christian biblical worldview. This perspective has been very carefully cultivated by the science faculty at Johnson and has been well-expressed by Dr. Sarah Cathey, Professor of Natural Science and Associate Dean of Arts & Sciences for Sciences at Johnson:

“We are scientists who are unanimous in our view of the created world as God’s handiwork, made with intent and out of his great love. We believe that as the world is God’s handiwork, honest seeking for truth affords us the privilege of learning more about the Creator’s existence, goodness, and purposes. From this position, we are not fearful of teaching about the current state of scientific knowledge in the mainstream. The science faculty are committed to presenting the current status of each of our fields of inquiry—biology, chemistry, anatomy and physiology, nursing, exercise science, etc.—in order to prepare Johnson students to interact with others in the public as ministry leaders and servants across other vocations.  We also acknowledge and teach that “scientific knowledge” is constantly in flux as new evidence arises, and that critical thinking is crucial in their training as educated Christians.

As a science faculty, we do not avoid discussing topics that may interact with our faith. Rather, we engage and acknowledge the world as we embrace the opportunity to know God better through his Word and through his created world, as faithful Christians who are scientists (Romans 1:20-21). The science faculty rely on conversation and interdisciplinary team teaching with our fellow faculty with expertise in biblical text, interpretation, and theology to assist us in presenting topics where faith and science intersect. Together, we carefully and intentionally walk alongside students as they weigh how faith intersects with challenging topics as they grow in personal faith and prepare for their strategic vocations, including full-time ministry.”

The new science facility on the campus of Johnson University will not only strongly support the teaching of the sciences that is so important in cultivating a biblical worldview in our students but will give us more opportunities to expand the scope and effectiveness of fulfilling our mission:  extending the kingdom of God among all nations.