In this post-modern era where concepts like right, wrong, truth and justice are often defined by an individual’s own viewpoint rather than by a single standard of belief, the question arises as to how concepts such as Ultimate Authority, Sin, and Absolute Truth fit into the culture in which we find ourselves. Are Christianity and today’s culture really even compatible as they once were perceived to be, or do the histories of each preclude them from thriving together in modern times? These are questions facing the Church both today and in the future and guidance is needed to help church members and leaders find answers.
The Graduate School of Theology at Oklahoma Christian University has developed a new program of study to help Christians as they seek to define just how it is that Christianity fits in their own, unique cultures.
This new program of study started to be developed in 2016-2017 in response to needs that were being shared with the university faculty and staff by prospective students. While students living in and around the Oklahoma City community (and those who could commute to the OC campus) were being developed for ministry through the existing Master of Divinity (MDiv), Master of Arts in Christian Ministry (MACM), and Master of Theological Studies (MTS) degrees, there was a need for a program that would be accessible to all people, especially those who could not come to the OC campus due to distance or time constraints put on them by their careers or other commitments. This program needed to be 100% online. It needed to be concise and easy to navigate. It needed to be personal and community-oriented. Most of all, it needed to address the questions of how Christianity can fit in today’s ever-changing culture.
A great deal of careful thought went into developing such a program. New courses were developed and elements of existing courses were revised to fit the new vision. A new orientation module was developed and student feedback metrics were put in place. Faculty became specially certified for teaching in an online environment. A great deal of time was spent in prayer for wisdom in this new effort and for the students that it would reach. Finally, in the fall of 2018, the first cohort of students began their studies in the new Master of Arts in Christianity and Culture degree.
The program of study takes the shape of being a two-year program made up of twelve courses. Each course is eight weeks long and 100% online. Students take just one course at a time so that they can fully focus on the subject at hand, learning in community with fellow members of their cohort. These students begin and end the program together, challenging and encouraging each other along their educational journey. In order to address the issues between Christianity and the culture of modern times, the program first lays a foundation of how Christianity has been in conversation with cultures of the past. Early courses focus on how the Bible has been interpreted throughout history and how this history influences how one approaches the text today. As the courses continue to build upon one another, students learn about the theologies presented in both the Old and New Testaments and how these have been applied over the course of human cultural development since the biblical era. The final classes delve into the topics of secularization and contemporary forms of theology. Along the way, students have the opportunity to take three elective courses that deal with how Christianity has shaped culture in various forms, such as in art, literature, traditions, holidays, and the rhythms of life. Elective courses also delve into how cultures have responded to Christianity in the wake of significant historical events. Each course is designed to provide academic rigor while still being accessible to learners from a wide range of academic backgrounds and experiences.
Two cohorts of students have now begun their journeys in this degree program and report great enjoyment and satisfaction with their studies. Students are discovering how Christianity has significantly affected world history around the globe and how it continues to affect history and culture today. They are learning to articulate how their own culture has influenced how they themselves approach the biblical text and how to wisely discern how the text is to be brought into the modern culture as it continues to develop. They are doing this in a community of learners from various parts of the U.S. and even abroad, helping to enrich each other’s experience through the sharing of ideas. The first cohort of students will be graduating this summer even as we look to add the third cohort this fall.
If you know of someone who would be interested in the new 100% online Master of Arts in Christianity and Culture degree or one of our on-campus degree programs, please encourage them to click the link in the advertisement on this webpage or visit www.oc.edu/gst for more information.
Scholarships are available and the first class for the Fall 2020 cohort is free! We believe that the Kingdom grows and is enriched through education such as that provided by the Graduate School of Theology, so please join us in prayer for our current and future students that they may excel in the good works that God has laid out for them.