Bth: God’s Preparation for Living in Our Complex World

Whilst leading some students on a mission outreach in Lesotho, a faculty member of GWC encountered someone in a café in Ladybrand who was the international director of a large telecom company. While chatting, it turned out that the sole qualification that person had was a Bachelor of Theology (BTh).

This is not an isolated or unique story touching on questions around ‘employability.’ Though some consider a tertiary degree in theology too narrow, the opposite is true. In fact, studies have shown that in certain parts of the world, a person with a theological degree is highly employable. After all, by the time a student graduates with a degree in theology, they will have acquired: research and analysis skills; interpretive skills as well as those needed to synthesise different types of information; the ability to understand the meaning of complex written documents; practice in presentation and public speaking; problem- solving skills; the ability to formulate questions; experience in teamwork; and writing skills. This is just a sample of theology’s ‘transferrable skills.’

Someone who studies the bible is well positioned to know god better and practically implement that knowledge in their lives

Some parents encourage their school-leaving children to study theology before going off to study chemistry, physics, management, science or teaching. Many who’ve chosen this route will attest to how theological college transformed their understanding in countless, invaluable ways. I know I would have benefited prior to my studies in physics from learning that modern physics denies the reality of time, which is just one of many other modern myths. Today students entering higher education will be bombarded with newer ideologies. But theological training can ground them with a better understanding of the world God made, from gender to leadership and identity. Undergirding all this, students learn that God has spoken authoritatively through his Word.

What Africa needs now are preachers, teachers and leaders who can tell the continent accurately about Jesus.

Ultimately, the best reason for enrolling in a BTh is to be truly prepared for active ministry. Of course, not all theological degrees are created equal—the best major in coming to grips with what the Bible teaches. Studying theology this way is never purely theoretical, contrary to popular belief. Someone who studies the Bible is well positioned to know God better and practically implement that knowledge in their lives.

For example, during the student uprisings at UCT in 2017, some of the students most active in the negotiations between protesters and management were GWC graduates. Despite never receiving training in negotiation, taking up this role was clearly an outworking of other skills, along with their conviction that God calls us to be peacemakers.

To study the Bible is, therefore, indeed, to become more practical. That is why most leading universities in Africa and the West were started by Christian theologians and pastors. What Africa needs now are preachers, teachers and leaders who can tell the continent accurately about Jesus. As they do this, God will bring Abraham’s blessing to bear upon the many societies and countries that make up this great continent. The result will be practically glorious.

by The Rev. Dr Mark Dickson (GWC Principal)