Saturday, December 15, 2007

A Non-Gotchya on Mike Huckabee

Some in the press think that they have caught Mike Huckabee in a lie. He said he had a degree in theology, and it turns out he only had a degree in religion. Well, I have a degree in religion too... and that is a degree in theology. As a Protestant, I was an avid reader of American (Protestant) Church history... particularly the period of the 19th Century. When you read a lot of books from this period, one thing that strikes you is that Protestant terminology has evolved over time. For example, time was when if you spoke of a "professor of religion", you were not talking about a college instructor who taught world religious studies courses, but you were a professing Christian. A famous book from the 19th century by noted Christian evangelist Charles Finney, was entitled "Lectures on Revivals of Religion" -- and he was not speaking of revivals of just any religion, but was using the word "religion" as a synonym for "Christian Faith". Another phrase which you still hear occasionally is that someone has "got religion", which means they have made a commitment to Christ.

When I was attending Southern Nazarene University, I was a Religion Major in the Religion Department, and I received a B.A. in Religion. Not long after I graduated, they changed the name of that Department and it is now "The School of Theology and Ministry", and were I graduating today, I would be awarded a B.A. in Theology.

It has been my experience that telling people you have a degree in Religion only results in them coming to false conclusions about the nature of that degree, and so I have generally just told people that I have a degree in theology, because as a matter of fact, that is what I have, and that term is less prone to misinterpretation... which is why my Alma Mater changed the name of that degree. A rose by any other name is still a rose. A theological degree by any other name is still a theological degree.